Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Crooker’

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.

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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Join the Poetry Friday round-up with Keri at Keri Recommends

Join the Poetry Friday round-up with Keri at Keri Recommends

Last week Michelle Barnes interviewed Douglas Florian who challenged poets to write a poem about nothing.  On Saturday, I had a bunch of nothing much going on and I read a poem by Barbara Crooker that was about nothing and the joy of a day when nothing goes wrong.  I stole a line and off I went.

with a borrowed line from Barbara Crooker, “Ordinary Life” in The Woman in this Poem selected by Georgia Heard.

This was a day when nothing happened.

I swept the floor.
Leaves piled with swirly
dust–not many left on trees

this winter day, but the sun
shone through a break in the clouds
making my gathering glisten.

I stopped to switch laundry
pulled long sleeves from the dryer.
Soft warmth brushed my cheek.

View from my kitchen window, by Margaret Simon

View from my kitchen window, by Margaret Simon

The dryer hummed a rhythm.
Time enough for another cup of coffee,
another deep breath of nothing happening.

I promised God to be present.
He said, “It’s all in the way you look at things.”
So I swept

words into a small pile
on a page
where nothing much was happening.

–Margaret Simon



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Poetry Friday Round-up is at Buffy's Blog.

Poetry Friday Round-up is at Buffy’s Blog.


I do not remember who introduced me to the poetry of Barbara Crooker, but I want to thank you. I am reading Line Dance published in 2008 by Word Press. Barbara Crooker speaks to me. She writes with rich imagery and real life events, touching my heart and my inner poet. She is also a very nice person. When I decided to review her book here on my blog, I wrote her an email from the contact information on her website. Imagine my excitement when, not 24 hours later, she had written me back!

I had a hard time deciding which poem to feature because they are all so good. In the title poem, the lines dance literally on the page as Barbara connects the people she loves in a dance at her daughter’s wedding. “everyone I’ve ever loved/ is here today, even the dead, raising a glass/ and dancing, circling around the bride/ in her frothy gown, bubbles rising/ in a fluted glass, spilling out, running over.”

The collection begins in winter when her father dies “through the narrow window, the cold sky/ stretched blameless, white and blue, behind him.” We are taken on a journey through grief, but not without hope. “this old blue world will keep on spinning, without you.” from Blues for Karen. And then comes Valentine’s Day when she strings hearts in all the windows. “The heart wants and wants and wants some more. Spring so far in the distance.”

Our hearts break with hers and are put back together with the puzzle pieces of her words.


I want to tell you something. This morning
is bright after all the steady rain, and every iris,
peony, rose, opens its mouth, rejoicing.
I want to say, wake up, open your eyes, there’s
a snow-covered road ahead, a field of blankness,
a sheet of paper, an empty screen. Even
the smallest insects are singing, vibrating
their entire bodies, tiny violins of longing
and desire. We were made for song.
I can’t tell you what prayer is, but I can take
the breath of the meadow into my mouth,
and I can release it for the leaves’ green need.
I want to tell you your life is a blue coal, a slice
of orange in the mouth, cut hay in the nostrils.
The cardinals’ red song dances in your blood.
Look, every month the moon blossoms
into a peony, then shrinks to a sliver of garlic.
And then it blooms again.

— Barbara Crooker, from Line Dance, all rights reserved.

The natural world sings in Barbara Crooker’s poetry. In Peony, “Imagine the hard knot of its bud,/ all that pink possibility.” Her poem, One Song (after Rumi), sounds like a concert of birds, beginning with a cardinal in all its red, then a chickadee adds percussion. The sun even comes out to join the chorus. And ends with “All the world breathes in, breathes out./ It hums, it throbs, it improvises./ So many voices. Only one song.”

So many voices. Only one song. Thank you, Barbara, for allowing me to be witness to your song. What a joy!

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing the Summer Poem Swap.

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing the Summer Poem Swap.

My own poem written for Robyn Hood Black for the Summer Poetry Swap is featured on Robyn’s site today.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Public domain image

Public domain image

I am celebrating another week of poetry. This was testing week. I had the time (while monitoring a small group of 5th graders) to read and to write. I spent some time with my new favorite poetry book, Gold by Barbara Crooker. A poet-blogger friend recommended it. I love Barbara’s style. I sat with the poem At VCCA, I Hear a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and Think of Martha Silano. I used the line This morning deliquesces. I had a dictionary nearby, so I looked up deliquesces. Then jumped over to the J’s. I found some great J words: jazz, jay, jettison, joyful.

I love playing with words. Thanks for being a part of my month of ABC’s in poetry.

I wish Storybuilder would appear in WordPress, but you have to click the link to see it.



The blue jay jazzes up to the birdbath
looks left, then right
bobs his head up and down
jettisons oak leaves and pollen curly Qs
lifts his nutcracker beak
to let the water flow down his throat.

I watch from the porthole of my kitchen,
think I should clean it today. This king
of jays shouldn’t have to drink dirty water.
This morning deliquesces, softens edges
of the dark night. I want to join
Mr. Jay making his daily rounds,
here and there, collecting
for his new nest. I would gather
blossoms from the fruit tree,
place their fragrance in your path
to let joyful praise of simple beauty
give your heart wings.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

For this poem, I just wrote. I didn’t change much from the written draft to the typed one. This rarely happens to me. I did play around with the line breaks. I enjoy reading about other poet’s processes. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater shares her process on her site The Poem Farm. At the Two Writing Teachers, Betsy Hubbard shares a process she learned from Georgia Heard. I celebrate being a part of a community that learns together.

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