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Today’s poem is a response to this week’s prompt from Today’s Little Ditty. “For this week’s challenge, I’ve selected “These Are the Hands” (Chapter 39) from Part 3 of My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice. It’s a prompt about empathy— something we so desperately need more of in today’s world. The prompt was inspired by a poem by Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, titled These are the hands that could sand a wooden bench.

Palm Sunday

These hands
weeding, discovered palms,
and wondered…
Will these old palms
make supple crosses?

These hands
cut long strips
of granite green.
A mind-memory of angle to knot,
thread through, criss-cross.

These hands
delivered simple gifts
to lonely, sheltered neighbors,
a churchless congregation
praying together. 

@Margaret Simon, draft

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For National Poetry Month, I am trying to write a poem each day following whatever muse I can find. Yesterday I tuned in to #verselove on Ethical ELA. Glenda Funk offered a prompt for writing an etheree. I’ve been seeing this form around the Kidlitosphere, so I wanted to try it out. It’s a 10-line form using syllable counts from 1-10.

When I was writing, I looked down to see the bracelet I was wearing. Last summer we cleaned out my parents’ home when they moved to a retirement home. We found all kinds of treasures. One was a box of jewelry from my godmother whom I didn’t know well. She died years ago. My parents had inherited some of her treasures.

In the box was a broken necklace of amber beads. My sister-in-law is talented at making bracelets. She took the beads and other beads from a necklace of my mother’s to create a new bracelet for me. And now I muse over it.

Etheree by Margaret Simon

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe.

For this first Friday of the month, my Sunday Poetry Swagger group writes together to a shared prompt. This month Linda Mitchell suggested the Poets.org #ShelterinPoems project. I decided to do an “after” poem from poet Barbara Crooker’s April poem that she posted on her Facebook page. I love Barbara’s writing, how it flows beautifully line to line.

BIG LOVE
I’d been traveling and missed this spring’s shy
unfolding. So when I returned, it was as if
a magician had walked around the yard
with a glossy black wand: Pow! Lilacs,
purple, white, wine-colored; scent to rock you
back on your heels. Bam! Dogwoods,
a cotillion of butterflies on bare black branches.
Shazam! Peonies exploding, great bombshells
of fragrance and silk. Tada! A rainbow row
of irises, blossoms shooting from green stalks.
Azaleas! Rhododendrons!. Everywhere I look,
the yard is ready to send its bombs bursting in air.
So push down the plunger! Let every twig and stem
erupt into flowers. Soon, it will be June, and all
of this opulence will be spent confetti littering
the lawn. I’m standing here, slack-jawed
and gob-smacked, shell-shocked into love.
Out by the bird bath, one by one, the poppies
slip their green pods, slowly detonate
into silent flame.
~Barbara Crooker

Bayou Sunset (photo by Margaret Simon)

Backyard Spring

I’ve been sheltering and missed this spring’s green
beginning. So when I walked out, it was as if
Jack had been by with his magical beans: Bada-bing! Cypress
needles feathered like peacocks showing wings; emerald
out of the blue. Bravo! Clover, a-dime-a-dozen flaunting
purple lily-like miniatures. Good heavens! The wisteria vine
drapes around, around. Everywhere I look,
the yard is ready to dance the day away.
So grab your partner! Take a two-step (six feet apart)
and let the green lawn party commence. I’ll invite
the wood ducks, squirrels, and herons. Set up
swing-back camp chairs. Out by the bayou, we’ll watch
the sunset draw orange curtains
into silent flame.

Margaret Simon, after Barbara Crooker
Clover on the lawn (photo by Margaret Simon)

Swagger Group #ShelterinPoems

Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

Check in on the Progressive Poem with Jone today.
Poem read aloud on the bayou with ideas for writing your own poem.

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I have a confession to make. I forgot to post this today. When I started this weekly prompt, I decided to do it on Thursdays because that’s the day Laura Purdie Salas would post her 15 Words or Less prompt. Thursdays felt right.

In this time of every-day-is-just-like-the-last, I forgot it was Thursday. The good news is my caterpillar has started to pupate. This monarch caterpillar was hanging on to a milkweed plant I bought last weekend. When I found the little thing, I put the whole plant into the butterfly net. Yesterday I couldn’t find the caterpillar. I looked and looked and finally saw that it was curled up under a leaf.

Please write a small poem (15 words or so) in the comments. Support other writers by commenting on their poems. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a definite kinship with this caterpillar.

Curled up
in the blanket
of your love,
I will emerge
renewed.

Margaret Simon, draft

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image created by Carol Varsalona
Read more Spiritual Journey posts at Donna’ Blog, Mainly Write.

Fear is the opposite of Love, so how do we live through this fearful time with Love?

I read an article from Time magazine that helped. The Bible does not turn away from fear. God’s word embraces the fear in us and replaces it with love. N.T. Wright says that we should turn to Psalms. Within the Psalms, God grieves with us. The psalmist draws us into the lament so that we are comforted by the connection, person to person.

The point of lament, woven thus into the fabric of the biblical tradition, is not just that it’s an outlet for our frustration, sorrow, loneliness and sheer inability to understand what is happening or why. The mystery of the biblical story is that God also laments.

N.T.Wright

I turned to Psalm 22 which typically we read on Maundy Thursday as the altar is stripped. As a congregation, we won’t be reading together this year. Yet, the lament is more real now than ever before.

The poetry prompt from Ethical ELA by Glenda Funk is to write a Blitz poem. I felt this form would work for a psalm-like poem based on Psalm 22.

Forsake me
Forsake my words
My words roar
My words cry
Cry in the day
Cry at night
Night is holy
Night I trust
Trust our God
Trust deliverance
Deliverance from evil
Deliverance from scorn
Scorned people
Scorned me
I am a worm
I am a child
A child in my mother’s womb
A child on my mother’s breast
My mother’s breast comforts
My mother’s breast gives hope
Hope is a garment
Hope is far from me
Far as a raging lion
Far as help
Help my soul
Help my darling
My darling hears me
My darling calls my name
My name praises
My name vows
Vows of worship
Vows of my heart
My heart loves
My heart seeks
Seeks food
Seeks a seed
A seed serves
A seed is planted
Planted in the soil
Planted in praise
Praise for a kingdom come
Praise for a will be done
Done to us
Done for us
We see salvation
We declare righteousness
Righteousness of God’s world
Righteousness to those born
Born of God’s hands
Righteous to live and love

Margaret Simon, draft

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Welcome April! My favorite month of the year when skies are blue, flowers are blooming, and poetry abounds!

I am committing myself to writing a poem a day this month, but I am not committing to a prompt. I will get inspiration from where ever the muse takes me. Last night as I was settling down for the night, I found NaPoWriMo. The early bird prompt posted on March 31st was to write about your favorite bird.

Here is my first draft:

A Prayer

Everyone was supposed to pray with the pope tonight,
but I got struck silent while watching
a hummingbird at the feeder
hovering as on angel wings 
disappearing into the green like a spirit. 

Where does our spirit go when we die?
Does it hover like the hummer
watching and waiting
for the lift off?

I wonder if the pope even knows?
We pray what?
What should I say?
There is nothing to be done
but stare at the feeder
and wait for another sighting of wings.

Margaret Simon, 2020 draft
Hummingbird at the feeder in my backyard. Taken August 30, 2016. Photo by Margaret Simon

The first line of the Kidlit Progressive Poem is a multiple choice from Donna Smith. The progression of the poem is in the side bar of my blog. Scroll down.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Looking up into the old cypress tree in my backyard.

Dear Readers,
I know this Covid Quarantine is dragging on, and things look bleak if you watch the news for any length of time. So why not turn it off and come to the bayou. There is always water flowing, a breeze blowing, birds singing. Nature is something we can find solace in, and something we can count on when the world is weird.

I’ve enjoyed creating videos for my students. I can’t believe how easy it is. I bought a bendable stand for my phone that looks like an android dog. I can video straight from my phone and upload it to YouTube in no time. Voila! An instructional poetry writing video.

Share these if you want or just watch for yourself to enjoy some time outside on the Bayou Teche. If you choose to write to the prompt, please share it with me in the comments. During this time of no-direct contact, I like feeling a connection to you through your words.

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Welcome back to This Photo Wants to be a Poem, a low stress way to wake up your creativity by writing and sharing a short poem. Please leave your poem in the comments and encourage other writers by writing comments on other poems. We are not looking for brilliance here, just a playful way to be writers together.

by Molly Hogan

This photo seems to want to be a whole story. Who was here? What was he or she doing? Could it be an artist’s still life?

Buried Treasure

With shovel and ax.
we poke and dig
while gold lies
in the search.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Jasmine tea takes me back
to our honeymoon in San Francisco
when I was falling in love with everything…
The Japanese Tea Garden
surrounded by green, blooming with
wisteria, iris, and maple blossoms.
We sampled green tea, all flavors;
jasmine was my favorite.
We walked hand in hand,
called each other Mr. and Mrs.,
and felt the hope of a new path before us.

Now in this time of quarantine,
someone said tea is good for you.
Who cares if it’s a hoax. I’ve heated the water,
dropped in a filtered circle of jasmine tea,
squeezed lemon from our backyard lemon tree,

and sip the taste of San Francisco
trying hard to remember
that love is enough.

Margaret Simon, draft
Photo by Olenka Sergienko from Pexels

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Yesterday I read Sally Donnelly’s post about choosing a color to represent this time. She quoted an artist who represented the 9/11 tragedy with the color blue. Read her post here.

I started thinking about the color I would pick, and it has to be green. This is the time of year when green appears in all its amazing shades in my backyard. The cypress trees are bursting with a bright neon green.

Looking up through the cypress trees

Live oak trees lose their leaves in the spring as new leaves emerge.

Grandmother Live Oak bursting with spring growth

I am passing my stay-at-home time on my back deck, listening to wind chimes and watching for the occasional boat. And sometimes a poem comes. Using Irene Latham’s prompt from Laura Shovan’s #Waterpoemproject, I wrote this quick ditty.

Bayou Side

Buzzing
Hovering
Fat hungry bumblebee

Roaring
Speeding
Wave-jumping motor boat

Paddling
Parting
Water-whispering canoe

Sparkling
Greening
Spring-loving cypress trees

Margaret Simon, draft
“water-whispering canoe”

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