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.

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.

Finding A Way Out of Darkness #SOL 19/31 ~ 2021

Directions for Light

Find an old notebook
any will do
composition notebooks
more forgiving
than fancy sketchbooks

listen to music
Helen Jane Long
and piano is lovely
or David Nevue

dip a brush in some color
sweep it across 
the width of the page
extra water
brings some light
to the darkness

let it dry
blow on it if you must

draw some letters
start with the alphabet
do it again
and again 
if you like
you don't have to
if you don't want to

write one sentence
with letters you like
any sentence will do
whatever comes to mind

doodle some flowers
colored daisies are nice
use a marker 
instead of a brush
any color is fine

there
now you've made 
a pretty picture
all ready
for the first day
of spring

and there will be
light

i promise

Shari Daniels draft


I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 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.

I’m also participating in Poetry Friday this week. If you’d like to immerse yourself in poetry in this weekend, Linda at Teacherdance is hosting the party. Stop by and read some poetry or add your own!

For One Who Is Exhausted ~ #SOL 18/31~ 2021

The well is dry. For not lack of topics, wonders, stories or thoughts, but for the sole purpose of the fingers who resist the keyboard tonight. They are tired.

There are no breaks this semester. Spring break cancelled to prevent students from traveling. A few study days sprinkled here and there. But, that’s what they end up being. Days of study. 

I’ve lightened our loads. Checked in on my students. How are you holding up? I ask. 

Barely, they reply.

Teacher and student both yearn for new sights, for long nap-pish days, sun soaking into our skin.

But, carry onward we will. And, I’ll gift them a poem from John O’ Donahue.

But, it’s me who needs it more.

A Blessing For One Who Is Exhausted

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laboursome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have travelled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of colour
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

~John O’ Donahue from his book To Bless The Space Between Us ~ A Book of Blessings

If you need the healing of O’ Donahue’s Irish voice, have a listen to his conversation here.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 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.

February Confusion ~ Poetry Friday

When February rolls around, teachers feel the pressures of the days. 
And, such a short month we're given to squeeze it all in. 
I often wonder what our students think. This poem came from those wonders.

February Confusion

It’s Black History month
my teachers say
Ground hog’s day
I love to read 
Love and hearts and 
Random acts of kindness
and a day to celebrate 
our presidents
Also, the biggest football 
game of the year

But, I’m so confused.
My teacher also said
that one day not so long ago
Blacks were not allowed to read
and presidents owned slaves
And, I found on the internet 
the groundhog is right 
less than half the time.

My teacher also taught us
about racism and stereotypes
and said how far we’ve come. . . but
I saw white Chief fans dressed up 
as Native Americans
painting their faces red
beating on drums
Chanting and singing
and the Tomahawk chop. . .

Be kind I keep hearing
Make it random
We write letters
and give cards with hearts
to our friends
This makes us all feel good
inside the walls of our classroom

I don’t know how to 
wrap up this poem
Something is missing
and I’m not sure what it is

But things are not all
what they say it is

©Shari Lynn Daniels 2021 (draft)

I'm participating in Poetry Friday where others who are sharing and writing poetry come to gather. You can find more poems to read this week here at the site of Molly Hogan, who is hosting Poetry Friday this week.