Evening Poetry, September 2

The Place I Want To Get Back To

by Mary Oliver

The place I want to get back to
is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness
and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me
they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is
and why she is sitting
on the ground like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;
and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way
I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward
and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years
I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can’t be repeated.
If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
Gratitude.

You can find this poem in Thirst.

Evening Poetry, August 3

The Vacation

by Wendell Berry

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation. 
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly 
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it, 
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat 
behind which he stood with his camera 
preserving his vacation even as he was having it 
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.

You can find this poem in New Collected Poems.

Evening Poetry, July 30

Heavy Summer Rain

by Jane Kenyon

The grasses in the field have toppled,
and in places it seems that a large, now
absent, animal must have passed the night.
The hay will right itself if the day

turns dry. I miss you steadily, painfully.
None of your blustering entrances
or exits, doors swinging wildly
on their hinges, or your huge unconscious
sighs when you read something sad,
like Henry Adams’s letters from Japan,
where he traveled after Clover died.

Everything blooming bows down in the rain:
white irises, red peonies; and the poppies
with their black and secret centers
lie shattered on the lawn.

You can find this poem in Collected Poems by Jane Kenyon.

Evening Poetry, June 17

Granite and Wineglass

by Rumi

You are granite.
I am an empty wineglass.
You know what happens when we touch!
You laugh like the sun coming up laughs
at a star that disappears into it.

Love opens my chest, and thought
returns to its confines.

Patient and rational considerations leave.
Only passion stays, whimpering and feverish.

Some men fall down in the road like dregs thrown out.
Then, totally reckless, the next morning

they gallop out with new purposes. Love
is the reality, and poetry is the drum

that calls us to that. Don’t keep complaining
about loneliness! Let the fear-language of that theme

crack open and float away. Let the priest come down
from his tower, and not go back up!

You can find this poem in The Essential Rumi.

The First Ever FLX Literary Society Meeting

Last night, we had our first FLX Literary Society meeting in our library. There were five of us, which felt perfect, since four of us were introverts. This idea has been brewing ever since that episode of What Should I Read Next podcast where Tiffany talked to Anne about her Literary Society.

Tiffany was flooded with DMs on Instagram of eager readers, like myself, who wanted to know more about Literary Society and how to start one of their own. Thankfully, Tiffany graciously gave us some guidelines in her Instagram highlights and was very encouraging to those of us who wanted to take her idea and run with it.

So I did. I asked a few friends if they would be interested, started a Facebook page, and set the date for our first meeting. And last night, we met and shared all of our bookish thoughts with each other.

Alan went first and talked about 11/22/63 by Stephen King, which he just finished, and also about King’s Dark Tower series, which he loved.

Susan shared a few Shel Silverstein poems from A Light in the Attic (Somebody Has To and The Little Boy & The Old Man as well as an original piece of her own writing. Susan is a witty, funny writer and we all can’t wait until she has a blog of her own!

Stephanie explained what Reddit was to all the older folk in the room and how she discovered a book called Tales from the Gas Station, a comedy-horror book by Jack Townsend.

Jenny introduced us to The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, a novel told through the dog’s perspective. She said this book will make you cry, but has a happy ending. She also told us about Travels by Michael Crichton, which was a travel memoir from his younger years, and The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve, which is a mystery set in Maine that alternatives between time periods. The book she’s reading now, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks sounded like a good personal growth book and reminded me of Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward.

I talked about The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton, that I finished earlier in the week. The writing in this book is beautiful. I wanted to read whole passages over again just to listen to the those words. Her writing reminds me a bit of Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow. The stories in this book are centered around a house in the English countryside where a ghost resides. Many characters from different time periods are all connected in some way to this house. The ghost’s narration is interspersed with third person POVs of the various characters in their various time periods. It was an ambitious book to take all of those people and find a way to connect them to the house. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audio version.

I also shared about The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne, a book about a gay young man growing up in Catholic Ireland during the fifties and sixties. And I talked abut She’s My Dad by Jonathan Williams, a book I’ll share more about in a review next week, and about the most bizarre book I read in 2018: Convenience Store Woman a story told from a socio-path’s perspective by Sayaka Murata.

Other books mentioned were From a Buick 8Dr. Sleep,  Joyland by Stephen King, the Jonathan Maberry series that starts with Ghost Road Blues, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

Check out our Facebook page for video snippets and photos of our first meeting! Have you ever thought of starting a Literary Society? I’d love to hear from you in comments!

Evening Poetry, April 7

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

I Wake Close to Morning

Why do people keep asking to see God’s identity papers

when the darkness opening into morning is more than enough?

Certainly any god might turn away in disgust.

Think of Sheba approaching the kingdom of Solomon.

Do you think she had to ask, “Is this the place?”

This is from the collection, Felicity.

Eating Frogs, Spring Cleaning, and Other Fun Things

A long time ago, a dear friend of mine had the habit of cleaning her home on Mondays. When I asked her why she chose Monday as her cleaning day, her practical answer was that Mondays are a day that no one looks forward to. So she felt that getting the cleaning out of the way paved the way for a happier outlook for the rest of the week.

This is the mentality found in Mark Twain’s frog quote: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

We all have places we want to go in our lives: personal goals and dreams that we are reaching for. But we have to do the hard and tedious stuff first. It’s necessary! Whatever it is you don’t want to do right now (and these are on my list this week): call the insurance company, get a new social security card, find a way to make a wireless printer work with my new 5G connection…just do it. Quit procrastinating! Use Mel Robbin’s 5 Second Rule if you need to…Make that dentist appointment, finish a sewing project and ship it, declutter the back room, clean the bathroom…just pick one and do it first thing in the morning. I promise you will feel better knowing you did that hard thing first.

In her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis shares a pretty clear message: you have to do the work and be the hero of your story. No one will do the hard things for you. Dreams are important and you need them, but, as Rachel says, you can’t live on hope. To make those dreams a reality requires a lot of uphill effort. In her podcast episode 72 about the daily practice that changed her life, she tells us we should write out our dreams, like it’s already reality, and then begin to reverse engineer what it will take to get you there.

So make your list and eat a frog first thing tomorrow morning!

And, in case you are doing some cleaning and want to know what cleaning products and tools (and a few books on home organization/care) I use, here’s my list of favorites. In my own life, having a clean and organized environment is necessary for my mental and emotional health. I am with Marie Kondo on this–the more clean and uncluttered your living spaces, the more you will enjoy your life.

Home Comforts

Organized Simplicity

Biokleen All-Purpose Cleaner

7th Generation Glass Cleaner

7th Generation Wood Spray

7th Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop

Shark Steam Pocket Mop

Microfiber Cloths

Share your frogs and cleaning adventures in comments!