Category Archives: Poetry

Sharing our Poetic Hearts for National Poetry Month

So, I’ll start with a haiku that mourns the loss of my beloved dog, who has passed from this life. The thought came me as I was shooing the geese off our dock¬† …yet again! ūüė¶¬† I don’t mind the geese claiming our yard as their nesting ground, but they have absolutely no sense of decorum concerning appropriate dock etiquette and care!

“Oh, Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?”¬† ¬†Geese are on our dock. ¬† I will have to shoo them off.¬†¬† Where did my dog go?

From earlier this April:

“Cast Away” ¬† Dreams, like branches, fall.
Casualties of stormy springs.
Half buried in snow.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

The Lord gave this next poem to my friend…as she sat in silence during the early morning…lamenting the death of her beloved son:

“As I come downstairs early in the morning
You, O Lord, are waiting for me
You meet me in the darkness of the early morning
You meet me in the darkness of my life..my grief
As the light of day appears
Your WORD pours LIGHT into my heart
The LIGHT I need to face this day‚Ķ..”
(‚ÄĒshe prefers not sharing her name)
You, Lord are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.
(2 Samuel 22:29)
“PEARL”
(by a dear friend since college days, Phyliss Hammerstrom)
Every poem begins
with some uncomfortable,
aching,
irritating grain,
around which I layer
word
after sibilant word,
encasing it with shimmering
veils of opalescence,
until its sharp edges are smooth,
until I can live with it.
–Then the knife
that digs the treasure out of my flesh!

Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he makes sore, and binds up: he wounds, and his hands make whole” (Job 5:17-18).

Carri Cassarino“Anxiety”
(by Carri Nelson Cassarino, September 20, 2017)

When anxiety was great within me,
Your consolation brought joy to my soul.
You say worry is against your kingdom,
So we must seek and must know.

Truly your best effort is to shield us from worry.
Your best hope is to keep solid for you and be in awe.
For the joy before us is your great joy,
And the way forward to trust your law.

For the glory of Him who loves us is His great and wonderful love,
We must ever trust him and give him our love,
For the way forward is to obey what He says.
And never seek our own way and be His beloved.

For the joy is found in obedience.
And the glory of Him for us is love.
For the hope He gives is eternal.
Then He will take what is His, above.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Home and Family Quandaries

Here are a few more haiku based on family fun:

On Turning One  Little Birthday Girl   Why are your favorite gifts Boxes and paper?

Play Actors¬† All the world’s a stage.¬† But if they won’t let you act,¬† You still get to play!

Life or Death MattersGreat expectations!I want chicks, but he wants eggs.Life and Death collide.

Asclepias   Snowy bird brooding
On your nest of eggs, are you
Hatching milkweed seeds?

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7).

The World Aswirl

Have you been working on any poems for National Poetry Month? I’ve been agog with all the beauty swirling in the late April snows around Tanglewood Cottage, so I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos that inspired haiku:

“Still Beautiful”¬† Cherry blossoms bloom,¬† But not here in Michigan.¬† Here snowflakes blossom!

 

“Artist” Great artists abound.¬† But in all the world I know ¬† There is none like God.

 

“All Paupers Are Princes” ¬† Snows melt in the sun.¬† The world gleams with jewels.¬† Beauty is treasure.

Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?” (Job 38:22)

(P.S.‚ÄĒThe photo of the cherry blossoms was taken by Elizabeth K. in Washington D.C.; they aren’t blooming at my house yet!)

Offerings for NaPoMo (National Poetry Month)

Do you enjoy poetry? Write poems? Since 1996, April has been designated as National Poetry Month in America to celebrate and encourage the enjoyment of poetry. Usually I take the opportunity to write a few poems, but so far this spring I’ve not slowed down enough to allow literary creativity to send up any new shoots from my soul. Nevertheless, I’m a believer (in good poetry), so I’m going to share 10 quotes on poetry with 10 poetic photos from around my home in the hopes of inspiring us all to poetic endeavors, and if you write any lovely poems between now and then that you’d be willing to share, please add them in the comment box below or send them to me via email (or message me on FaceBook), and I’ll reserve April 30 for sharing what we create. Sound like a plan?

“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.” Plutarch¬†¬† “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” Carl Sandburg¬†¬† “Always be a poet, even in prose.” Charles Baudelaire¬†¬† “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings:
it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” William Wordsworth¬† “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought
and the thought has found words.” Robert Frost¬†¬† “As to the pure mind all things are pure,
so to the poetic mind all things are poetical.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow¬†¬† “A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out
in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times;
a dozen or two dozen times and he is great.” Randall Jerrell¬†¬† “Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal
down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.”¬† Don Marquis¬†¬† “Why should poetry have to make sense?” Charlie Chaplin¬†¬† “If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.” David CarradineAnd so, I’ll await with great expectations for any expression of emotion
mixed with bits of wisdom or puzzlement that blossom from our hearts.
May we all find some quiet time for reflection and meditation this spring! “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure” (Proverbs 4:26).

(As might be obvious, the last photo was not take around my home. ūüôā¬† Rather, it’s from Meijer Garden, where “the butterflies are blooming” through April.)

Poetry from Job and Vistas of the Grand Canyon

Job is often thought to be the oldest book in the Bible. Have you ever read it? It’s full of flowery speeches about why men suffer, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson called it “the greatest poem of ancient and modern times.” Job is also listed as one of the twenty-five righteous prophets in the Quran, so his fame extends throughout the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim worlds.¬† What I love best about Job is that we know from the beginning Job’s suffering was not because he was evil. In fact, he was one of the world’s most upright men! Although it’s true we usually think of people as prospering if they are honest and work hard, from Job we learn that this is not always the case, and that some of the finest and best people suffer despite having sterling character.¬† In the end, God proclaims that He alone is the all-wise, all-knowing One, and Job’s mouth is stopped. But, during his trial,¬† Job receives a revelation so beautiful that Handel incorporated some of it into his timeless oratorio, Messiah: “Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!¬† That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:23-26).¬† The Bible advises us to live with compassion and respect toward all men. We have no idea what their lives have been like. Great advice, don’t you think?

Anyway, my son Jon brought home about 2,500 photos from his trip white-water rafting on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and as I was thinking about what he’d learned and the beauty of this unique area, the words of Job 38 came to me. I thought they might be perfect paired with some of God’s creative magnificence and mystery, as recorded by Jon in July:

1Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,  2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?  3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee,  and answer thou me.  4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?  declare, if thou hast understanding.  5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest?  or who hath stretched the line upon it?  6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?  or who laid the corner stone thereof;  7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  8 Or who shut up the sea with doors,  when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?  9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof,  and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,  10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,  11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further:  and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?  12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days;  and caused the dayspring to know his place;  13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,  that the wicked might be shaken out of it?  14 It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.  15 And from the wicked their light is withholden,  and the high arm shall be broken.  16 Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?  or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?  17 Have the gates of death been opened unto thee?  or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?  18 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.  19 Where is the way where light dwelleth?  and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,  20 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?  21 Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born?  or because the number of thy days is great?  22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?  or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,  23 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble,
against the day of battle and war?  
24 By what way is the light parted, 
which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? 
25 Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters,
or a way for the lightning of thunder; 
26 To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness,  wherein there is no man;  27 To satisfy the desolate and waste ground;  and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?  28 Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?  29 Out of whose womb came the ice?  and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?  30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.  31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?  32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?
or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? 
33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?  canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?  34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds,
that abundance of waters may cover thee? 
35 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are?  36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts?
or who hath given understanding to the heart? 
37¬†Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,¬†¬†38¬†When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?¬† 39¬†Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,¬† 40¬†When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait?¬† 41¬†Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God,¬† they wander for lack of meat.”¬†

This eloquent reminder of human limitation goes on for several more chapters, but chapter 42 records Job’s response: “Then Job answered the Lord, and said, 2¬†I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. 3¬†Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not…5¬†I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. 6¬†Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

That’s where I’m at. I have surrendered to God’s ineffable wisdom
and acknowledge that even though I don’t understand his ways, I trust Him. As Job said, “Thou he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).

(Photo Credits: Images related to Job from Wiki; all other photos were taken by Dr. Jonathan Armstrong in July, 2017, except the winter, aerial views, which I took last January, 2017.)

 

 

Not Shock, but Cultural Surprises in Asia via Haiku

Alan and I had a lot of wonderful experiences in Asia, many of which were surprisingly pleasant (such as green tea ice cream),a few that we pretty much all disliked (such as silkworms), and many that were very different but turned out well even though they weren’t at all what we were expecting!I was constantly struck by the beauty of South Korea and the immaculately manicured cities in Japan. Just for fun, I wrote a few haikus commemorating some of the cultural surprises.

On Asian Restrooms ¬† (Yes, this is a bathroom…in the Seoul Tower) Such fancy bathrooms!¬† Soap on bars and heated seats, But‚ÄĒdon‚Äôt stand on them!
(In some rural areas, you squat over a hole in the floor. Twenty-two years ago,
I rode a train where the toilet was a hole in the floor emptying onto the track! Times have really changed since then! Now some restrooms are ultra modern, with music, heated seats, and several types of special wash and dry options!!)

On Asian Cuisine  The food looked so strange  I was afraid I would not  Like it, but I did!

On Asia’s Beautiful Flowers¬† Flowers overhead,¬† Underfoot and all around.¬† Asian majesty.

On Pets  Everywhere you go There are pampered pets in tow Like happy children.

But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34; may we embrace each other all over the world, even in areas where others seem strange!).

Waiting for Baby

I’m waiting for a baby again,
But it’s not nearly as hard as it was when
I was waiting for my own, because even though I don’t know how long it will take,
I know it’s not exactly my body that’s at stake.
Nevertheless, it is the body of my son’s wife,
And for them…I would give my own life,
So it’s still very stressful, particularly since last time was more nightmarish than dreamy,
And they ended up with a 1.5-pound micro-preemie.
Still, their first baby is now a happy, chappy two-year-old,
Who might sass his mom but so far for me has been good as gold.
However, I get P.T.S.D. at the mere thought of babysitting
And every time I even think about it I break out in a sweat and imagine quitting
Before I even arrive at their door
Which will doubtless happen more and more
Because the more babies you have, the more help you need,
And even though it might be easier to lay down my life than do a good deed,
I’m pretty sure what they’re going to need are more good deeds
Rather than a grandmother  in absentia without any leads.
BTW, am I the only grandmother out there who’s paranoid of crying toddlers?
Are the rest of you seasoned babysitters and able toddler jogglers?
Maybe it comes from being the baby in my family and my dad hiring me to grade college exams for more than people paid babysitters,
Or maybe it comes from never having any time off for thirty years when my own seven kids were wild and woolly little kidders.
Whatever the source of my anxiety, you couldn’t pay me to watch kids for a mountain of cash,
But I’ll do it for love’s sake…though I’d feel more at ease spending an afternoon with Ogden Nash.

(You guessed it, I wrote this while my daughter-in-law was in labor on April 18, 2017. On the bright side, I won the family guessing game concerning what day the baby would be born!¬† ūüôā¬† )

Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:4-5).

(P.S.‚ÄĒActually, Sammy’s being a doll for me, and we’re doing just fine!)