The First Evening of the New Year: Quiet Blessings Live On in a Journal

Aside

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                                                                                                                                            Every New Year’s Day, I have followed a tradition from my grandmother and mother of opening up a new and fresh journal filled with welcoming pages for events, thoughts, poems, memorabilia and daily musings. This evening was no different. My 2017 journal is now filled with what came our way each day of the past 52 weeks. There are many good things that filled this journal and some not so great. We weathered them and came out on the other side of each one. Some are still in progress such as having a nephew still in South Korea serving his country, grieving off the loss of a sibling, and new baby on the way for my nephew and his wife and a wedding in the coming year.  The good things outweighed the bad although with the world the way it is, the way our country has become and the way natural disasters made a swath of tragedy in the West and South did not take away daily quiet blessings. Often, it was sometimes hard to see quiet blessings prevail, but they did. At times when it becomes a struggle to see light, we must create our own. I hope I have. Whether it is a lighted snow village on my dining room table, or helping a young writer with her dream to write, light comes through little by little-and it endures.

In the dark days of winter that are coming, we have memories of all the good, and the light behind them. I can only say this: That everyone has done their hardest and their best. The love here among us all stays and stays strong.  This is the most important  New Year’s intention or as some call it resolution that truly matters to me. It is not on a to do list to be accomplished…it is ongoing. Quiet blessings and welcome to a new year and a new light in 2018.

Remnant

A very special poem from my poetry collection Journey On: Beauty And Grit Along the Way. It was one of those poems that came to me so easily…I love when writing a poem can actually be almost effortless. This one was:

Remnant

You found me alone,
yearning for the summer’s moon
and encircled me like a wraparound porch.
Drawing me close, you took my pain and fears
and welcomed them in.
You came and stayed in my heart
giving love with yours.

You are gone, but your love remains,
like the remnant of an old soft blue sweater
hung nearby on a peg by the back door,

waiting for the wearer to return home.

Anna Blake Godbout's photo.

I am greeting September with a quiet poem for my readers. The bustle of summer is now past. Here in Colorado our mornings begin with chilled autumn like temperatures. Spots of orange are appearing on the scrub oak and the aspens are tinged with golden on their tips of their leaves. So now make a cup of vanilla almond tea, settle in and read from the Journey On Collection Listening for My Name. I thank you for reading my words.

 

Listening for My Name

 
You returned with mysteries forgiven
a gentle cover of darkness surrounded
me with the wonder of anticipation.

You became yourself once more
someone long forgotten, this time promising
never to be lessened by fear again.

Inner stirrings beckoned for you
beneath my hidden need.
And then, you began to give
while I began to take with delicious breath.

Beyond the window pane the rains fell,
the thunder moved in from far off distances.
You gathered me in like fog clinging to a river,
refreshing sleep whispered this gift
as moonlight drifted through brushed away clouds.

In the quiet days and nights of winter to come,
I will turn to you,
and listen for my name.

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.