Evening Poetry, November 22

Mending Wall

By Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

You can find this poem in The Poetry of Robert Frost.

Friday Favorites

Yay! It’s finally Friday. (Did you know my favorite day is actually Thursday?) Anyhoo, I’ve got some favorites podcasts and books to share with you!

Podcasts:

My favorite new podcast: Wildly Aligned Podcast with Natalie Brite. Thanks to my friend Britt for sharing a post on Instagram with Natalie’s positive voice. I’ve listened to this episode twice and am going to listen a few times more.

Do you ever get into a funk (aka depression) and just need to renew your mind? Yeah I was in one for two solid weeks and was wondering if I was going to be able to pull myself out or if it finally was time for meds.

Then I listened to this podcast and it was like the clouds parted, angelic choirs sang overhead, and I saw the light. It was as if my whole being was saying a big “Yes!” to every word.

Beyond Aromatics Podcast by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy or NAHA (of which I am a member). On this episode, Tiffany Carole shared about AromaPoint Therapy, which she developed, in which different diluted essential oils are placed on specific energy points on the body. She shares three points where anyone can apply the recommended oils. I applied diluted Bergamot to the Shen Men point on my ears and actually felt a calm release about 10 minutes later. Don’t knock it till you try it!

Visual Marketing With Tailwind is a podcast mostly devoted to Pinterest. Until a few months ago, I was barely using Pinterest and hardly ever for business. Then I started a marketing course and the instructor drilled into us that Pinterest was more important than Facebook or Instagram, and indeed, reminded us that Pinterest wasn’t actually a social media platform–it’s a search engine.

So, I started using Tailwind, which is an app which lets you schedule pins for a month or two at a time. And my views went from 1K-31K in 3 months. You better believe I want to know all I can about how to use Pinterest to get traffic to my website and Etsy shop! This episode is one of many that will provide useful info for those who want to grow a following and get more traffic to their site/blog/shop.

Books:

It’s been too long! With all the other things I’m juggling (Ayurveda classes, aromatherapy classes, Etsy, website, blog, social, our music duo) I haven’t been keeping up with telling you what I’ve been reading and loving. But here are a few (I’m currently at 103 books read for the year, so I’m breaking a personal record.)

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbie Waxman was the most light-hearted book I read this year so far! If you like to read about people who love books, this one’s for you.

Nina is a quirky, introverted twentysomething who lives in L.A., works at a bookshop, discovers a family she never knew she had, and meets a very promising man.

The author’s way with words is clever and unusual–no cliches here. And there are parts that made me laugh out loud, which is not something that happens often. (Unless I’m reading David Sedaris.)

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield is my top pick out of all the books I read this year. I listened to the audio version read by Juliet Stevenson and I absolutely recommend you read it this way.

The story: one cold Winter Solstice night, a man appears in the doorway of The Swan, an inn on the Thames. In his arms he holds a small girl and nobody knows where she came from.

Three different stories unfold that include a missing child. Which family does the girl belong to? Or is she someone else entirely? And what did happen to those other children? Exquisitely written, woven with mystery, magic, and myth, this book will enchant you. 

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware was the scariest book I read this year. Here are some of the scary bits: a nanny alone in a house with children who hate her, the house is in the Highlands of Scotland, the house is also a “smart” house so everything from lights, to the refrigerator, to music is controlled by an app and is under constant surveillance from the parents who are away on business. Oh, and there are malicious, ghostly happenings that are directed at the nanny, as they were at her predecessors.

OK, I’m a wimp and don’t read horror, but this came close. I had to read this during daylight hours with people around. So if you like thrillers, this one is for you!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Evening Poetry, November 21

Doors

by Carl Sandburg

An open door says, “Come in.”
A shut door says, “Who are you?”
Shadows and ghosts go through shut doors.
If a door is shut and you want it shut,
     why open it?
If a door is open and you want it open,
     why shut it?
Doors forget but only doors know what it is
     doors forget.

You can find this poem in Sandburg Range.

Evening Poetry, November 20

From The Essential Rumi

by Rumi

In your light I learn how to love.

In your beauty, how to make poems.

You dance inside my chest,

where no one sees you,

but sometimes I do,

and that sight becomes this art.

You can find this poem in The Essential Rumi.

Evening Poetry, November 19

Long Afternoon at the Edge of Little Sister Pond

by Mary Oliver

As for life,

I’m humbled,

I’m without words

sufficient to say

how it has been hard as flint,

and soft as a spring pond,

both of these

and over and over,

and long pale afternoons besides,

and so many mysteries

beautiful as eggs in a nest,

still unhatched

though warm and watched over

by something I have never seen–

a tree angel, perhaps,

or a ghost of holiness.

Every day I walk out into the world

to be dazzled, then to be reflective.

It suffices, it is all comfort–

along with human love,

dog love, water love, little-serpent love,

sunburst love, or love for that smallest of birds

flying among the scarlet flowers.

There is hardly time to think about

stopping, and lying down at last

to the long afterlife, to the tenderness

yet to come, when

time will brim over the singular pond, and become forever,

and we will pretend to melt away into the leaves.

As for death,

I can’t wait to be the hummingbird,

can you?

You can find this poem in Owls and Other Fantasies.

Evening Poetry, November 18

Here is a poem that I haven’t edited yet. I’m putting it out there because I’ve been having wonderful twilight meanderings the past week or so and wanted to document it in some way.

Twilight

by Kim Pollack

I startled the owl as I went through the line

of evergreen trees behind the house.

I haven’t heard him since late one September

evening when I stood upstairs in the dark,

with my phone pressed against the bathroom screen,

and recorded his hoots to send to my son.

The air is still and clear, and the cold curls

itself under my coat and against my skin.

I stand facing the westering sun

with its yellow and pink whiskers and wonder

what my kids are having for dinner.

I drink in the quiet, and as I turn,

there is the owl, with his white wings wide,

swooping silently over the orchard and disappearing

high into a Scotch pine. When I reach the orchard,

I visit with the old apple and pear trees.

Placing my palm on a slim gray trunk,

I drink in the rooted reassurance and

let my troubles slide away. I breathe in.

“All is well,” they always say. I thank the trees

for being there and wish them goodnight,

and head toward the love-light of home.

Copyright 2019 by Kim Pollack

Evening Poetry, November 17

The Slip

by Rachel Hadas

Empty and trembling, haloed by absences,

whooshings, invisible leave-takings, finishes,

images, closure: departures so gracefully

practice their gestures that when they do happen,

dazzled with sunlight, distracted by darkness,

mercifully often we miss the event.

So many hours, days, weeks, years, and decades,

spent–no, slathered and lavished and squandered

ardently, avidly gazing at nothing,

pacing the pavement or peering round corners,

setting the table and sniffing the twilight,

sitting and gazing at edges, horizons,

preparing occasions that leave us exhausted,

recovering, staggering back to a climax.

Dramas of use, inanition, repletion!

And there all along, except not there forever,

was the beloved. The foreground? The background?

Thoughtful, impatient, affectionate, angry,

tired, distracted, preoccupied, human,

part of our lives past quotidian limits,

there all the while and yet not there forever.

You can find this poem in Halfway Down the Hall.

Evening Poetry, November 16


Smoke in Our Hair

By Ofelia Zepeda

The scent of burning wood holds
the strongest memory.
Mesquite, cedar, piñon, juniper,
all are distinct.
Mesquite is dry desert air and mild winter.
Cedar and piñon are colder places.
Winter air in our hair is pulled away,
and scent of smoke settles in its place.
We walk around the rest of the day
with the aroma resting on our shoulders.
The sweet smell holds the strongest memory.
We stand around the fire.
The sound of the crackle of wood and spark
is ephemeral.
Smoke, like memories, permeates our hair,
our clothing, our layers of skin.
The smoke travels deep
to the seat of memory.
We walk away from the fire;
no matter how far we walk,
we carry this scent with us.
New York City, France, Germany—
we catch the scent of burning wood;
we are brought home.

You can find this poem in Where Clouds Are Formed.

You’re Not Listening (A Book Review)

If there was ever a book that was written for our time, You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy is one. It brings to light the modern epidemic of short attention spans and our lack of listening skills, shares why we need to be listening, and offers ideas on how to listen better.

Truth: I am not as good a listener as I thought I was. Sometimes I think about my to-do list when I should be listening. I’ve occasionally texted while someone was talking to me–something I swore I’d never do. There are times I finish my husband’s sentence, thinking I’m helping. I’ve interrupted and talked over the top of him or my kids.

All of this bad behavior has come on gradually, and although I wouldn’t blame my smartphone, I have definitely gotten worse since I started using one.

But I don’t want to be this person and I’m sure you don’t either. I want to show people kindness and courtesy by giving them my undivided attention, not to check out mentally if they meander or take longer than expected to answer a question. The good news is that listening is an art that can be improved upon with practice, just like any other skill.

One of the first things I learned in this book is that when two people are engaged in healthy conversation their brain waves sync up. And that this requires empathy which you learn or don’t learn in the first year of your life, based on how well your caregivers paid attention to your needs. Even if you didn’t experience this kind of attention as a child and develop good listening skills, you can acquire the ability to listen through deliberate practice later in life.

Another thing I learned is that if someone is boring you in a conversation, it’s most likely your fault for acting disinterested, or for assuming you already know what they’re going to say. If you approach every interaction with another person with curiosity, as an opportunity to learn something new, you will be surprised by what people tell you, and how interesting they can be.

One subject that is especially relevant in today’s polarized political climate is in the chapter on “Listening to Opposing Views”. The author writes that when we hear someone talk about something which we disagree on, our natural response is to get defensive because our brains experience this as we would a physical threat. But by working through that instinct and actually listening to the person with another view, we will expand our understanding.

We may never agree, but we can “embrace the possibility that there might be multiple truths” (p. 88), and that another point of view is just as legitimate as our own. Don’t we all need to grow in this area?

I think the other chapter where my eyes were opened to my lack of listening skills was in the chapter entitled “Supporting, not Shifting, The Conversation”.

I learned that a support response is one “which encourages elaboration from the speaker to help the respondent gain greater understanding” (p. 137) which is pretty rare. Most of us take a shift response “which directs attention away from the speaker and toward the respondent” (p. 137).

So, for example, if your friend tells you about something that happened to him, you can either ask him another question about it to get him to elaborate further (support response) or you can say something like “Yeah, I had that happen to me…blah, blah, blah,” (shift response) and put all the attention on you.

One of my favorite lines is “Listening is about the experience of being experienced” (p.32). Listening is about connection, which, as humans, we all crave and need. Connection banishes loneliness and gives our lives a greater sense of purpose.

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters will be published on January 7th. I could go on with all I’ve learned and how much I think we need this book now. Instead, pre-order your copy, and let’s have a conversation about it in January. I, for one, will be listening!

Evening Poetry, November 15

America, I Sing Back

by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

for Phil Young, my father, Robert Hedge Coke, Whitman, and Hughes

America, I sing back. Sing back what sung you in.
Sing back the moment you cherished breath.
Sing you home into yourself and back to reason.

Oh, before America began to sing, I sung her to sleep,
held her cradleboard, wept her into day.
My song gave her creation, prepared her delivery,
held her severed cord beautifully beaded.

My song helped her stand, held her hand for first steps,

nourished her very being, fed her, placed her three sisters strong.
My song comforted her as she battled my reason

broke my long held footing sure, as any child might do.

Lo, as she pushed herself away, forced me to remove myself,
as I cried this country, my song grew roses in each tear’s fall.

My blood veined rivers, painted pipestone quarries
circled canyons, while she made herself maiden fine.

Oh, but here I am, here I am, here, I remain high on each and every peak,
carefully rumbling her great underbelly, prepared to pour forth singing—

and sing again I will, as I have always done.

Never silenced unless in the company of strangers, singing

the stoic face, polite repose, polite, while dancing deep inside, polite
Mother of her world. Sister of myself.

When my song sings aloud again. When I call her back to cradle.
Call her to peer into waters, to behold herself in dark and light,

day and night, call her to sing along, call her to mature, to envision—

Then, she will make herself over. My song will make it so

When she grows far past her self-considered purpose,
I will sing her back, sing her back. I will sing. Oh, I will—I do.

America, I sing back. Sing back what sung you in.

Copyright © 2014 by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. Originally published in Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

You can find this poem in Streaming.