How a message arrives

green buds and their urgency

An early morning transcribing
messages from beyond
the sky- – a stunning blue
spring buds beginning their escape

an infrequent flock of seagulls
high above – cry to steal my attention
racing the robins to the first
morning call

The pen harkens back to the voice
of a poet, who the day before
I’d savored his own scribed words
his father’s voice
laced with his own

Writing poems is a service to others
gift those poems to someone
with the nib of your pen, his lesson
Share without fear! A poem can’t wait
for perfect conditions!

Braiding his message with that
of the morning seagulls cries
and the urgency of these spring leaves
it all flows at once into the river –
my passport to the day

The sky is the limit! the chorus sings.

Shari Daniels ~draft

To listen to Kim Stafford’s words: podcast/rattlecastpoetry: https://youtu.be/ZT0cnRH1Jy8

Poetry as resilience~SOL 4/31~2022

Mark Nepo joined the hosts, James Crews and Danusha Laméris on this fifth week of the Poetry as Resilience Retreat I have been participating in. Each Friday, for two hours, a poet guest shares how poetry has been a life giving force for them and ways for us to use poetry as a practice for sustenance in our daily lives. The retreat has been such balm for me at the end of each week, coming together with others who savor the lighthouse that poetry can offer us.

I want to share the essence of today’s words from Mark Nepo.

He teaches us,

Falling down and getting back up has a rhythm. There is an art to falling. We have to learn to to keep getting back up.

Our daily, weekly and yearly rhythms of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual selves have a rhythm as well. Repeatedly, we fall, not fail, but more of a letting go – a shedding – an acceptance that something no longer serves us.

This can completely undo us.

And, we need practices for getting back up.

For me, in the last few years, poetry has been this practice. The deep study of a poet each month has been a guide with their words through my days. The memorization of one poem, every now and then, gives me an ownership of those lines – an embodiment in which I can call to those lines at a given moment of need. They are waiting, at the ready. Poetry Dives with Kim Rosen have awakened me to the power of reading poetry out loud, with music, as a lubrication for those words to do it’s work.

Poetry has been my way of getting back up. Whether reading, writing and listening to poetry, it’s been my buoy and my anchor.

Today, I share a poem gifted by Mark Nepo, one that has found it’s way to my pages today:

The Rhythm of Each
by Mark Nepo

I think each comfort - each holding
in the night, each opening of a wound,
each closing of a wound, each pulling
of a splinter or razored word, each
fever sponged, each dear thinking given
to someone in greater need - each
passes on the kindness we have known.

For the human sea is made of cares
that mount and merge till the way a
nurse rocks a child is the way that child
all grown rocks the wounded, and how
the wounded, allowed to go on, can
rock strangers free of their pain.

Eventually, the rhythm of kindness
is how we suffer and pray by turns,
and if someone were to watch us
from inside the lake of time, they
wouldn't be able to tell if we are
dying or being born.

From The Way Under the Way.
Sounds True. 2016

If you’d like to create your own poetry retreat, you can listen to a poetry talk by Mark Nepo here or listen to James Crew’s in Poetry Writing as Self Care or maybe you’d also like to listen to Naomi Shihab Nye. I am so grateful that these artists share their work with us.

I am participating in the 15th Annual SOL 2022 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

Words change us~ SOL 3/31~2022

As the events occurring on the other side of the planet flash across my screens reminding me of the continued injustices in the world, my pen struggles for words to scribe.

My own daily tribulations are seemingly insignificant, meaningless and vain.

Yet, at the same time, I am numb with anxieties, overwhelm and exhaustion. My laundry and dishes piled high and another week trickles by in which I’ve still not finished my journal article due to the publishers in a few days time. Such dread. Stories of woe have been trailing through my notebook for weeks.

It’s at these times that I reach for the words of others to guide my writing. I become a collector of words (and images) in contrast to a generator of words. 

This can go many directions.

Today, I simply took to social media, Instagram to be precise, and doom scrolled for a bit. And, then, I lifted some words from an Instagram image and listened for where they might take me.

Photo credit from Instagram @enterhervoid
What does it take? she asks
to attain that magnitude
of unfailing heroism?
of bravery . . . courage . . . fearlessness?
David versus Goliath.

To raise a fist against
the largest of forces
#FightLikeZel
The world chants in awe

She reaches for a cookie
Lemon - from the Girl Scouts

I thought you weren’t eating sugar
her husband reminds her
I am today, she replies
they have words on them he tells her
I’m a Go-Getter he smiles

Her eyes search 
for the words she’s been gifted
I am Strong
her cookie whispers

Her teeth bite off the smallest of bites
savoring the sweetness
and taking in the Strength

Then she walks to her bedroom

And picks up the dirty laundry
and carries the basket 
to the washing machine.

draft Shari Daniels 2022

the entry from my notebook with a lemon Girl Scout cookie

It’s easy to go about our lives as if the happenings in the world do not affect us. But, they do, in ways that go unnoticed, under the currents of our everyday circumstances. And, I’m always surprised that when I capture a snippet of words that the screens or books or poets are sharing and write them into my notebook, my pen finds a way to uncover more, a more personal way the events of the world connect to me.

And, I am changed.

I am participating in the 15th Annual SOL 2022 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

The Energy of words~sol 2/31~2022

Indelible
by Jayne Cortez

Listen i have a complaint to make
my lips are covered
with thumb prints
insomnia sips me
the volume of isolation
is up to my thyroid
and i won't disappear
can you help me

I came across Jayne Cortez’ poem yesterday and it halted me. I paused after each phrase of words and swung them open – wide open. And read them again. And again – leaning in to them.

Feeling them each line.

The word “indelible” intrigued me and I needed a definition. I went to Webster.

  1. a. That which can not be removed, washed away or erased; b. making marks that can not be removed.
  2. a. Lasting; b. unforgettable; memorable.

Words can be indelible I thought.

I don’t recall the precise moment I realized how much I treasure words. . . how they sound, their rhythm, the deep underlying essence and complexities of a single word. I’m fascinated in how we name things and then shape our lives around that idea of what the name stands for. We attempt to gain a deeper understanding of each other and the human experience, but all we have is language to describe it.

Which is why we must be so careful in the words we choose to use – with others and with ourselves.

Not everyone feels this way about words. We’ve all experienced words being thrown around willy-nilly without any thought about where they might land or how they may shape a human’s being.

It’s not anyone’s fault. We only have the words we have been given.

For those of us that savor words and hang on their every facet, I think we might feel there’s something more going on.

Sharon Anne Klinger writes,

Every word carries an energy that 
can be sensed, regardless of whether
you're thinking about it, speaking it, 
hearing it or reading it on the page.
A lot of elements impact a word's energy.

Each individual word gives off a vibrational energy, high or low. Some people are more sensitive to the energies around them. It only makes sense then that words might effect some human beings more profoundly than perhaps those that than can go about their days flinging words around aimlessly.

I wonder if there’s a word for that?

I am participating in the 15th Annual SOL 2022 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

The smallness of things~Sol 1/31~2022

graupel~snow pebbles in the morning

Upon first morning steps outside the front door, my eyes rest on the smallish snow-like pebbles blanketing the ground. My work lately is to attend to these small wonders of the days that stretch out before me . . . distractions from the injustices and the anxieties of worldly events that dominate the screens.

I often ponder at how small one can go.

The sunshine seems too grand. The tropical breeze of 25 above zero (after weeks of 25 below) and the arrival of deer in the backyard all give me pause for gratitude, yet there are even more miniscule moments that go unnoticed, the less obvious. What Ross Gay calls “delights”.

How many can I capture on a given day? To carry me onward with more hope?

Reminders of this practice follow me around as Naomi Shihab Nye and Danusha Laméris have conversation about how these small moments in our everyday life offer us poetry for living. We neglected them pre-pandemic. Now, we admit, they are all we have to carry us onward.

On this particular day, these tiniest mysteries are spread out before me as far as my eyes can see.

Graupel, the internet tells me, is what it has been named. It screams to be a poem:

Graupel

Bouncing snowflakes blanket the ground
miniature Styrofoam balls
formed 
in highly unstable atmospheres and
convective currents

warm air hugs close to the ground
cold peers downward
snowflakes tumble from the sky
rain swaths it's melted tears

cocooning the chill of winters end

Shari Daniels draft~2022


I borrowed a few phrases from the internet to draft this poem, because sometimes I need help to get myself going.

I am participating in the 15th Annual SOL 2022 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

Guided By the poems of Hazel~January Poet Guide

My January notebook is painted and awaiting the scribed words for the cover – ones from the poet Hazel Hall that wish to be my guide throughout the month of January.

Let me tell you about some of my writerly rituals for the beginning of a new month.

My notebooks are these pink leatherettes from Walmart. I do love them and fill one notebook each month. They are cheap and sturdy, with paper thick enough to resist the bleeding of any pen. My only angst is that I can only find them in the color of pink. It didn’t used to be this way. Walmart used to carry them in a variety of colors – but no more. Only pink they offer. So, I started painting them. A lovely color of the month adorns each notebook, along with some artful designs. A wide open space is left in the center for the poetic words chosen from my poet guide of the month. I often don’t know what those words are until mid-month – the words that keep appearing in my days become the chosen words.

A couple of years ago, I read a post by Austin Kleon about how he starts his notebooks. What stood out specifically was his ritual of adopting a guardian spirit over the notebook. I tucked this idea away to let it marinate for awhile and this year poets began waving their hands at me, asking to be personal guides for my writing and my living. I remembered Austin’s ritual and decided I would choose one poet each month as a guide for my writing, notebook and living to see what would evolve.

I hold an audition the first day of January inviting a few poets that might fit the job description for the month as Poet Guide. Auditioning this month were four poets I’ve had my eye on. January’s preferred requirements: give insight to my ancestry (great grandmothers), poet’s subjects speak to my January themes, poet’s work has craft that is admirable AND within my reach (so I might try it out in my own poems).

Here’s who have appeared:

1. Ted Kooser/ I bought his book Winter Morning Walks and so want to explore it deeply. As a Winter Walker, I’m already seeing with new eyes because of his words;

2. Willa Cather/a female poet from the early 20th century (and there are so few), who writes of the prairie and nature;

3. Julia Hartwig/a Polish poet, again female who wrote a book of poems titled In Praise of the Unfinished, and I think she may know me;

4. and finally Hazel Hall/ because I’ve been saving and admiring her poem “Mending” for months and a seasonal theme for January is mending. She writes of sewing, loneliness and being lost and I intend to begin two quilts this month. She’s an overlooked poet and is said to be the utmost poet of observation.

*****Hazel Hall was my chosen guide.

Just look at her and her poems! How could I pass her by?

After a little play in my notebook, adding her images in dedication to this notebook honoring her words as guidance, and making a little book to fill as I learn more about the life of this lovely human being, I glue an old envelope in (this one, an old birthday card from my mother – see her beautiful handwriting with my name?). Then, I do some googling and search for poems and I fill the envelope with Hazel’s poems, keeping them at the ready for the days of January.

The notebook is ready. And my guide awaits her role as daily mentor, wise way-shower and poetic hand-holder.

Not every day, but many days out of the month, I reach for a poem after my daily entry. Magically, the words resonate with the words I’ve scribed on the pages of my notebook for that day. And, I feel enveloped in compassion, knowing another soul understands my angst. Gratitude is given for her gift in stringing together letters, words and phrases to meet me here.

Closing my notebook, I say thank you. Thank you to Hazel, to the moment of connection, to the words captured in my notebook for safe-keeping of who I was on this day. And, I await for the next time we are to meet – here – in this space I’ve carved for us each day.

I am participating in today’s twowritingteachers Tuesday Slice of Life. Please head over to their page to read the smallish stories that describe the moments of of other slicers. They are delightful.

Or, add your own.

Poetry Friday: Banishing Expectations

swimming with a buoy

My husband is trying to teach me to swim this year. I’ve never liked swimming. I think I was traumatized in middle school during swimming lessons with water up my nose and a stolen swim suit. Regardless, I’m determined to test my edges this year, and say yes to the things I’ve most often avoided. Swimming is one of those things.

Yesterday was my 10th visit to the pool with my husband. I was able to swim an entire lap (50 yards) of the American crawl. . . with a buoy between my legs to keep me afloat and allow me to focus on my breathing. My husband, who swam in high school and college, hailed this as progress.

The moment begged to be a poem to document the event.

Scaffolding ~

She began her quest of 1000 yards
of the American crawl
or front crawl as originated 
by Ojibwa swimmers
named Flying Gull and Tobacco
some time in the early 1800's.

Tending to her breath
arms and legs neglected
her body sank
like a ship with too much cargo
a buoy placed between her thighs 
supported her to the end

You're doing it hon, he cheered.
You're actually swimming!
Applauding her progress, 
a beaming smile admired her
yet. . . 

she resisted - shaking her head.

It's like cheating, she degraded herself
Needing a device to keep me afloat?
I should not need this extra help.
The yards do not count. 
They are cheapened.

Yes, they do count, he assured her pride
I count my yards swimming with buoys and boards.

You do? she questioned her All American Swimmer.
I didn't know. . . 

Who do I think I am? her expectations chased away
by the sword of the teacher.
8 tons of cargo
lifted from her drowning ship.

Shari Daniels; draft 2022

I’m taking part in Poetry Friday this year and if you’d like to join us and add your poem, head over to Carol’s site at Literacy Link and join us! Or, you might just like to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the poems that others have shared there.

Whatever you decide, I hope you are safe and warm today. Take tender care of yourself and those you love.

#2021 NPM~A Progressive Poem: Day 25

Some time ago, I added my name to the Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem contributor list. The Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem was born in 2012 by Irene Latham, of Live Your Poem, as a way to celebrate poetry during the month of April as a community of writers. The poem travels from day to day through the month of April, blog to blog, with each host adding a line to the poem as it unfolds in a magical way.

Margaret Simon coordinates this journey, and this year, Kathryn Apel, children’s author and poet has gifted us a beginning line in which to follow.

Here is the compellation of poetry lines that make up the poem thus far:

*******************

I’m a case of kindness – come and catch me if you can!
Easily contagious – sharing smiles is my plan.
I'll spread my joy both far and wide
As a force of nature, I’ll be undenied.

Words like, "how can I help?" will bloom in the street.
A new girl alone on the playground – let’s meet, let’s meet!
We can jump-skip together in a double-dutch round.
Over, under, jump and wonder, touch the ground.

Friends can be found when you open a door.
Side by side, let’s walk through, there’s a world to explore.
We’ll hike through a forest of towering trees.
Find a stream we can follow while we bask in the breeze.

Pull off our shoes and socks, dip our toes in the icy spring water
When you’re with friends, there’s no have to or oughter.
What could we make with leaves and litter?
Let's find pine needles, turn into vine knitters.

We'll lie on our backs and find shapes in the sky.
We giggle together: See the bird! Now we fly?
Inspired by nature, our imaginations soar.
Follow that humpback! Here, take an oar.

Ahh! Here comes a wave -- let's hold on tight,
splashing and laughing, let's play until night!
When the Milky Way sparkles, and the moon’s overhead,

*************

Tabatha Yeatts, at her blog home, The Opposite of Indifference, has offered me two lines to choose from and add to this poem, and then my task is to generate two more lines for Tim Gels to choose from as the next poet in line. Tabatha’s poetry line choices are:

we watch firefly friends signal with wings outspread

or

we make a pretend campfire and tell stories we've read

Myself, loving a good story, I’m choosing:

we make a pretend campfire and tell stories we've read

So, now, in repeating that finished last stanza:

Ahh! Here comes a wave -- let's hold on tight,
splashing and laughing, let's play until night!
When the Milky Way sparkles, and the moon’s overhead,
we make a pretend campfire and tell stories we've read.


This poem is nearing the end, with a possible one stanza left and perhaps a closing line that leaves the reader lingering in wonderment. So, this last stanza feels like it must take a bend or pivot in some way.

Here are my two line choices for Tim to choose from and then to follow up with his own line:

You tell me yours, and I'll tell you mine.

or

Some stories are true and some myths of our time.

**********************

Tim, at Yet There is a Method, I pass the baton off to you to see if you can make something of this.

Good Luck, Poetry Friend!

**********************

Please join in reading other poetry friends who contributed to this Progressive Poem this year:

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All

A Text Message Poem: A Poetry Invitation #1/30 PAD

The March #Slice of Life Challenge ended yesterday, and while I’ve yet to reflect on that month long journey of putting writing out into the world, I felt a nudge to keep sharing some writing each day. How lovely it is that March flows right into April – the blessed month of poetry, along with opportunities to share poetry all over the place. I am delighted when April rolls along so I can take a deep dive into the world of poems.

Big wonderings lead me into this quest:

How can poetry sustain me this month?

What might my themes for poems be?

What new poetry strategies, forms and craft techniques might I try out?

Who will the poets be that guide me on this journey?

Years ago, I was introduced to Georgia Heard and devoured her book, Awakening the Heart. She taught me that poetry hides within the Doors of Poetry: The Observation Door, The Heart Door, The Wonder Door, The Memory Door, and The Concerns of the World Door.

Early on in my poetry journey, before I truly LOVED poetry (because if I’m honest, I was not schooled to love poetry), I categorized the poems I found and wrote using these doors. While this was a very limited view of poetry, it gave me some stepping stones to begin observing where poetry hides with a variety of lenses. And, while I don’t think of these Doors of Poetry now, when reading or writing poetry, I believe they might unconsciously be an underground knowing that I draw from. Many poems can be categorized as several doors at once, or. . . it just depends. Some poems are their own category.

Yet, I believe we sometimes need a place to start. Thinking of The Doors of Poetry gives one a framework for opening up to a new and unrestricted view of poetry. One that is starkly different from their own middle and high school years, of analysis of poems and writing poems within prescribed forms.

This month, I’d like to attempt to put some perimeters on my poetry deep dive and strive to read, write, share and offer invitations to write poetry within the framework of Georgia’s Doors of Poetry. Yet still, be able to do this without tripping up the flow of what a poem wants to be. This can be both restrictive and creative at the same time.

If anything, these invitations are here for myself, to use again and again.

Here’s the first Poetry Invitation: A Text Message Poem

Search your phone for a text message conversation that can be shaped into a poem.

The Mother-Daughter Dance

There is a space
where my tooth belonged
The tongue wriggles
around in its confused
state of bewilderment

It's the first sign
of old age 
I message my 
28-year old daughter

Or young age 
she replies
Kids lose their teeth, too, Mom
she reminds me

Maybe I should shift
my thinking 
as this transition
into wise age
I text back

Yes. Very Wise. She Replies.
You are so wise
that your teeth
are falling out . . .

(long pause)

I feel like I
need to lose some teeth
she adds

Shari Daniels, draft

What started out as an observation poem, in the newfound awareness of this empty space way back in my mouth, and the text messages to my daughter, had turned into a heart poem, showing the compassion and care my daughter has for me in her attempt to trip up the default wiring my own mind has when I go down the “I’m getting old” road. She recognizes this and saves me.

Her last text message response is bait for me to notice that she, too, right now, in her 20 something life, is seeking an extra dose of wisdom. She in a state of what-to-do-ness.

It’s a dance we dance frequently – the Mother and the Daughter.

You can find it in the messages we hold in our hands.

This month I’m participating in the 2021 April PAD (Poem A Day) Challenge in which I’ll be poeming my way through the month and also the NaPoWriMo poetry challenge for April. If you’d like to join along and write poems, you can find other poems to read at these sites here and here. Each site also gives invitations for poems each day. Or, head over to Poets.org to find other ways to celebrate poetry this month.