Sun-Bleached

(For Tweetspeak Poetry’s laundry poem prompt.)

stonebench

All my laundry is white.
No strategically chosen colors,
no distracting patterns
to hide any stains.
I hang them in the sun
and something in the light
makes them bright again
and warms a nearby stone
where I can rest.

Words Not Dropped

And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.
(1 Samuel 3:19, ESV)

Let flavorful tidbits
roll off your tongue.
Take a twist or two

from the salt mill.
Add grace to taste
(no measuring). Then

God will not let
your words go
to waste, like

leftovers scraped
off the plate.
Someone hungry will

devour them
and not a crumb
will fall to the ground.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalm 19:14)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
(Ephesians 4:29)

Linking with Sandy:

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

To Parents of Newborns: Don’t Blink

babybaby-500wide
(photo via Tweetspeak Poetry)

For Tweetspeak Poetry’s latest prompt: Write a poem for the exhausted new parent. Reflect on the fleeting season of childhood.

———-

Breathe her in, savor
these newborn days as fleeting
as the baby’s breath
the flower is named for.
Carry her skin
to skin.
And don’t blink, they say.
True, but napping
is okay.

Plaid

Jennifer Dukes Lee has invited us to write a color poem! But I couldn’t decide on one color, so I’m doing plaid:

———-

Plaid is the vertical, heaven reaching down,
intertwining with sideways lines—
you reaching out to me
reaching out to you.
Tartan lines, some bold and wide, some
narrow, all coming together
at right angles, motley little L’s
loving one another.

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

(Romans 12:4-5)

Lava Rock

lavarock400wide

How can it be that magma heat
loses its liquid burn? How
can fiery froth turn cold,
molten bubbles no longer
bursting in a rolling boil?
Your zealous glow has cooled, aloof now
and indifferent, your white-hot hue
frozen into dull darkness, igneous and basaltic,
your dynamic flow turned
static, all the little holes
hardened into airy rock, not much
weight, negligible influence on
any scale. Burn again.
Burn.

Because you have this faith, I now remind you to stir up that inner fire which God gave you.

– 2 Timothy 1:6 (Phillips)

(for this poetry prompt at tweetspeakpoetry.com)

A Better Anger Management

Once, at a ski-town cabin, I chopped wood.
I put the log over a wide tree stump and swung
an axe for the first time. That was before
I had read any Annie Dillard, so I didn’t know
I should aim for the stump, should swing past
the log I wanted to split. But I liked that it was hard
work, I liked the transfer of energy from arms

to axe to wood, and then I was too tired even to be
angry. It’s like when I was a girl and my
big sister’s boyfriend took us to the batting cages.
When I swung hard but missed I felt heavy
like a storm cloud that couldn’t let down
its thunderload of rain. But when I heard
the crack of the bat and felt that same energy
transfer from my arms to the flying baseball,
I understood why they called it a sweet spot.

Sometimes when I am angry
I want to go to the batting cages
or the chopping block at that cabin,
but never
when I am the baseball
or the log to be split.

Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
(Luke 6:31)

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
(Ephesians 4:26)

Short-tempered people do foolish things.
(Proverbs 14:17)

On Mirrors and Reflection

Geometrical optics is just a rough
approximation. The angle of incidence
is supposed to be the same as the angle

of reflection. Well,
when wavelengths are small enough
to disregard the character of

the wave, this method might work.
But ray tracing requires straight lines
with arrowheads showing they’re sure

of their direction, requires
no distortions, and you have to ignore
the photon’s character as well

as its energy levels. Not to mention,
the angles have to be measured
from the normal. It’s so hard to

sketch a mirror image. Who can find
a line of symmetry when everything
is off-center?

————–

(For the “Mirror, Mirror” poetry prompt by Seth Haines. Read the prompt and join in with your own poem!)

Making Paper

Wood-shreds, cotton, flax, grass—
plant fibers beaten to expose
inner life, so old life will pass

into something new. Water-softened,
washed, mixed into slurry, ready to be
made and molded. And pressed.

Sheet bared to the sun, blessed
and made useful in the drying,
in the exposure to the Sun.

I have a memory; every crease remains,
intricate folds of experience
shaping origami me. He unfolds,

some parts tucked in so tightly
I tear in the unfolding. I tear
in every unfolding, but

His hand smoothes over.
Surrendered in the unfolding, I wait
and He writes.

Spirit-ink penetrates, bleeds
all the way through as nib makes
graceful strokes recording
flourishes of kindness, goodness,
grace on me.

00002

Flooded

She ducked when they hovered
so close above her, the downwash
from the blades of their frantic
propellers whirring, worrying.
“Be safe in the rain! Keep warm!
Wear waterproof shoes and a plastic
coat!” And she did, but also made
sure to roll up her cuffs
enough to let
some
of that
rain
down
her boots.

(For the image poetry prompt at the Every Day Poems Facebook page.)

The Art of Naturalization (Poetry Citizenship)

In my teen years I was an alien but never thought of myself as one. Except for some character qualities in common with Marvin the Martian (“You’re making me very, very angry”), there wasn’t much of the extra-terrestrial about me.

On the contrary, I was quite worldly and did a lot of the normal high-school-girl stuff: applied for college scholarships, went to the mall for fun, wanted to be one of the Laker Girls, and drove my dad’s sleek 1983 Toyota Celica complete with rear-windshield louver, black leather front bumper cover, and spoiler. “Spoiler” is not just a car accessory; my dad paid for the gas and oil changes, even though I had money from my front-desk job at the West End Racquet Club. Nothing alien or unnatural about that.

But I was, indeed, an alien.

I had lived in California since I was two and a half. I thought I was as American as you could get, but I wasn’t American. Not officially, anyway. When I turned eighteen I applied for U.S. citizenship. I paid for the application fee myself (thanks to that West End job). To call myself a citizen of the country I called home, I had to be naturalized.

My sisters had done it before me and said the test was easy if I knew some basic things about United States history and government. “Who was the first President?” they asked. “And the sixteenth?” I knew both those answers, but what if I had to know the seventh, or the twenty-seventh? I, the most politically ignorant person I knew, was also supposed to know the names of my Congressman and Senators. I made a mental note to look those up.

On my naturalization interview and test day, I had to go to the Los Angeles Convention Center, right there on South Figueroa near the intersection of the 110 and 10 freeways. I had never driven to the heart of downtown L.A. before, much less alone. I was nervous about getting lost, negotiating through the traffic, finding a place to park. But this was an important day to me. I even wore a dress.

I don’t remember the questions, only that I passed the test (and that “Abraham Lincoln” was not one of the answers). In a closing ceremony with my new fellow Americans, all strangers but now connected by our common citizenship, we said the Pledge of Allegiance, right hand over our heart. We sat in rows of folding chairs in front of a theater-size projector screen. And then the song “Proud to Be an American” came through the speakers while scenes of America’s best places played across the screen. If the INS intended an emotionally moving effect, it worked. Fields of wheat (golden and swaying in a gentle wind, of course), the Statue of Liberty, an old lighthouse on a New England coast. I didn’t notice at the time that the music video never showed a place like Carson, California (the suburb of L.A. where I lived—my real America).

All that to get what I really wanted: proof of citizenship, the accompanying benefits, and a passport.

My entrance to poetry was not like that. I “immigrated” from the land of engineering to the land of words, but when I landed fresh off the boat on poetry’s foreign shores, the new country took me in without any requirements. No application fee, no test, no interview. I didn’t need to know the definition of “sestina” or who Sara Teasdale was; the poets just let me dip my nib into the ink, though I spoke the language haltingly and with an accent.

I accepted the welcome and explored the land. Though always a novice, I was never an “alien” and felt at home. My becoming a poet was so…natural. And when I reached into my pocket, I found that the passport had been there all along.

***

(Inspired by The Art of Immigration at Tweetspeak Poetry.)