In these last days of August, I take a look back at a summer moment tracing the thread of beauty on a coastal road somewhere in New England…

Morning Migration

In the quiet tidal marsh,
along a coastal road lined
in Queen Anne’s Lace,
a lone heron dances
stirring the sanctuary
I dance too,
my legs wobbly, my steps small.
Golden light breaks upon my back,
and on the heron’s wing.

I turn beyond what is known
and see the lavender horizon in a tapestry
of muted light.
Here I have no fear,
for there is no one to see
my silent gratitude, full with grace.

The tidal marsh waits
like the sanctuary,
like the heron,
like all of us, for the light.

Why I Write Poetry

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     I am often asked why I have chosen to write poems instead of novels, short stories and essays in my writer’s life. My answer is not a complicated one:
Because I want to. Because it lets me be authentic. Because we need poetry. Besides, supplies are basic and simple…a journal, a blue pen and the words that spill out thoughts and memories.
     In the winter of 1997, I wrote my first poem. Actually, it was a running track to tell a friend from Boston what it was like to live in Colorado while sitting in a traffic jam one January morning on I-25 staring at Pikes Peak. Searching like a mad woman in my school bag for pen and paper, words began to spill out and I could not get them written down fast enough. I was afraid I would forget them as fast as they came. And my writer’s heart along with it.
     Writing a poem for me is not a goal-oriented activity. It has been a continual process of discovering who I am and for me I cannot do that in writing a novel. I have discovered that my words can have an immediate and long lasting impression on those that read them; something that is expressed when one feels the same way as I do and can’t or won’t write them down. While writing a poem can be in be a most intimate and satisfying experience, how it touches a reader’s heart and life is the most important and gratifying tribute I could have as a writer.
     I write free verse only; I am partial to the flow of eloquent and rich language. I cannot rhyme or do metered poetry or sonnets-it reminds me of teaching language arts daily to my students at school before retiring from education. I do not care for writing prompts set up by someone’s idea of what a writing subject should be. My writing “prompts” come from observing details of the world around me, what I am seeing in the moment, what I am feeling or what I have remembered from an experience in my life. As an example, in the poem The Wedding Ring Quilt, there is a direct relationship between my words and my writing what I have experienced…not exactly the typical writer’s mantra of “write what you know”:
 
THE WEDDING RING QUILT
This morning, the first snow of spring
kept falling like a curtain of lace across the mountains,
spilling remnants of winter
down into the stunted pine brushed valley.
“I hope it snows six feet,” I said.
Warm, weathered hands
gathered our wedding ring quilt
around the curve of me, knowing the soft why of my words.
 
     I am always looking for ways to improve my work. One of the best ways has been through my writing group that I have been with for the past several years. Their insights and critiques are not just welcome, but truly invaluable. Sitting on my sofa, drinking cups of tea or coffee, fresh pens and journals in hand, wearing the comfiest of clothes lends itself to a ‘sense of place’ with trusted friends that help you figure out words, images and frustrations. But I also have found having mentor and editor that knows my style of writing and where it should go, not only the best investment, but invaluable in my writing journey. A suggested a title change to one of my poems led to a third place prize in the Denver Women’s Unknown Writing Contest. A year later, another poem took Honorable Mention. My education as a poet is always ongoing;  I hope it never ceases.
     My poetry continues to be published in small journals and local publications. My poems have been  published in “Distant Horizons”-a publication of the Wyoming Poets Society, The Story Circle Network, The Pen Woman Magazine, a publication of the National League of American Pen Women and just recently Mary Janes Farm Magazine. 
    
     Although I have self published a volume of poetry through Mountain Tapestry Press, I am always finding ways to market my poetry. One of my favorite ways to market is to combine my poems with my photography. Each poem and photo tells their own story-they enrich one another in a different medium. For one month of the year, I exhibit this combination at the Barnes and Noble Café near where I live in Colorado. What is wonderful about this opportunity for me is that I see it as a “ 30 day book signing”. I have seen many people take the time to read my work and grab my business card. A few photo/poem combos have been sold from this exhibit. Another way to market my work is that I take advantage of my local Arts Center. Whenever there is member exhibit coming up, I always enter my work. No other photographers have poems with their work except for me and it is always a unique way to get my name and work out there. I have started writing groups in my community, teach writing workshops, donated poems for special occasions, and teach students at local elementary schools.. I take advantage of small local independent bookstores in selling my book, Journey On: Beauty and Grit Along the Way. In giving back, I have been a book judge with Pikes Peak Library, Colorado Independent Publishing Association,  Women Writing the West, Oklahoma Federation of Writers and a presenter at poetry workshops at Colorado College and CCIRA Literacy Conferences in Denver.
     And so why do I write poetry? Is it because I love to wear black and a beret at a reading? ( Forget the beret; my hair is not long enough.) Is it because I love to write my words in blue scripted font instead of the standard Times New Roman black and white? ( The answer is a definite yes!) Or is it because I have had people tell me that my simple creations touch their heart in language they can relate to and feel deeply when life becomes too chaotic and my words can take them somewhere else for a moment in time?
      I love to imagine someone getting up each morning and having a small connection with a poem of mine over morning tea, smile and begin their day. After all, poems hold their own secrets, don’t they?

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Giving the Beach Back to the Tourists

DCF 1.0August brings forth the winding down of summer days and nights. Soon Nature’s landscape will begin slow quiet changes often without notice. Before the calendar rolls in September, I give you a poem of quiet summer reflection. A moment in time when evening settles in and memories are held dear…..

 

Midnight slips out of translucent skies,
my salty skin is whitewashed with splashes of light.
Beads of sweat trickle between white breasts
moonlight arouses my calm center
as we lie on a bed of sand and shell.
 
Tied loosely to moorings,
far off fishing boats bobble and creak.
The Atlantic murmurs, channel markers clang
under a spill of silver stars.
 
Quivering beneath the elegant canopy,
I reveal myself to bursts of dream light,
my flesh rhyming with yours.
 
The whimsical tides jump and play with the gulls;
breezes swish through sea oats and beach grass.
Your fragrance surges among
temperamental pleasures,
summons the waves to crest again and again.
 
In the lavender-streaked dawn, we search the beach
for tossed undergarments, and washed up treasures
before tourists stomp on sun bleached boardwalks
in their cavalier march towards the sea.

 

 

Journey On

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It’s time to become acquainted with
a new season and embrace a limitless horizon,
vast and mysterious.

No longer desiring
to be held back,
a long silence stirs awake.
My life map unfolds;
a new journey begins…

revealing new dreams
with the same heart.

 

 

I Stop the Questioning

Before February gets by us, I want to share this poem about a moment in time filled with an enduring memory.  As the snows falls and the wind blusters by, a woman with her warm comforts of tea and a charming music box from Germany fills her afternoon…

 
Each February I remember the fragile note,
kept safe in the music box imported from Germany.
Unfolding the faded and creased parchment,
I read his words in soft murmurs
while waiting for the old teapot to whistle.
My aging hands are cold and less nimble;
but my mind fights the weathering years.
Scrawled in pale blue ink, he wrote:
 
“My dearest valentine
I beg you, live well and laugh often.
Bouquets fade and dry,
Godivas digest,
ahh…but love…love…
think of me and smile.”
 
I gently refold each crease and put away
the only thing he left me.
Still, I ask myself each year since his passing,
were they written out of guilt or obligation?
Sipping Earl Grey tea on this bittersweet afternoon,
it was easier to believe in love.
 
What is a wintry day in February like for you? Can you identify with the woman in this verse?  Your thoughts and comments are most welcome!  Thank you for reading this posting of I Stop the Questioning.

 

Late Afternoon in Early Winter

The wood stove fire burns slowly,
warmth seeps into ridges of a red fleece blanket
that adorns my shivering shoulders.
Outside the snow softly falls,
swirls of silver and white cover
autumn into bare branched silence.

North winds howl,
white tailed deer scrape snow on their tongues
on a late afternoon in early winter.
Caught in high country silence,
I sit and wonder, will we ever dance together again,
one more time embrace
the soft rustlings of our mountain love.

The late afternoon begins to dim;
Night fall trails and gives way to the gray violet of snowy dusk.
I listen for your voice to echo down the high country ridge;
a gesture of your long awaited return home.
Outside the mountain settles into an early winter,
the deer and I wait for December snows to end,
and the passes to clear,
and embrace the pale glimmer of morning.

Another Book Spine Poem

Fooling with words,
I seek out a dream- how to make a life as a poet.
Hot coffee, and cold truth,
a woman’s notebook
encounters the writing circle,
on a Thursday in autumn at the bookstore.

Later, a walk on the beach,
a gift emerges.
Naming the winds,
I begin writing towards home
while I journey on with beauty and grit along the way,
to infinite possibilities.
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Vox Populi

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A Note From Abroad

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sailaway from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

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Poetry Breakfast

Beginning March 20th, 2016 Poetry Breakfast will once again serve a little poetic nourishment every morning. Start your day with our new expanded menu. Poems, of course, are our specialty. But we will also be serving a fuller menu that includes poetry related creative non-fiction such as letters to and from poets, essays on poetry, and anything else that might feed a poet and poetry lover’s soul.

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