Archive for the 'poetry' Category

Small creative pursuits

It’s been quiet, creative-wise, around here. Due to lack of workspace and cat interventions, I’ve had to put aside some of my bigger projects (sewing machine repair so I can make a muslin, some of my painting), and focus on small things when I have time. While the cats sleep, I’ve found free time and space for:

  • Knitting washcloths
  • Stitching beads onto my counted cross-stitch kit
  • Working on the front of the Artisan’s Vest

And of course there’s reading. Current poetry book: Whereas: Poems by Layli Long Soldier. Long Soldier’s poetry is fascinating, and very different. I think I’ve reread “Steady Summer” multiple times. Link to the publisher’s page:

Here’s a taste from “Steady Summer”:

"... through half-propped 
windows I swallow
grass scent the solstice
makes a mind
wide makes it
oceanic blue ..." 

Some of the poems are hard to parse, more visual than lyrical. Other poems require me to look things up in history books, because I’m not familiar with Oglala Lakota background, environment (anything, really… and it’s my job to educate myself, since public school did not).

There have been brief travels, now that family are vaccinated, for quick visits. Seeing other environments has helped a little. And I went, fully masked, to see the Philadelphia Flower Show, which was outdoors (and kind of amazing). I’m trying to weigh what I’m comfortable with against what seems to be safe. It’s complicated…. I’ve also been limiting my time online (when not for work) and my time on Rav because I didn’t enjoy the headaches from the interface. Not sure if I will ditch my Rav account (I was one of the second wave of beta testers when the site went live). I think it depends on how weird that site gets.

So what are you reading or creating in your free time?

A walk without photos

Today, in-between rainstorms, I walked 7 short blocks
Past graveyard stones, over crushed white gravel,
Down the driveway that was once a country lane.

The neighborhood had many simple lawns, with ruby
Velvet spires of coleus glowed, their soft leaves
A surprise behind prim pickets and boxwood.

Some yards ran riot with flowers, tempting skippers
And bumble bees to sample mountain mint, herbs. 
Some had peppers, beans, Swiss chard in neat box beds.

Dog walkers were briskly jogging with purpose.
But I slipped outside to stroll by others' gardens,
Watching when the Monarch butterflies took wing.

— © rjn, 14 August 2020


Around the yard, mementos grow
From other swaths of green:
Gardens transplanted
From other gardens; Plants planted
So that 1918 lives on near the lawn.

Heart-shaped green leaves catch the faint breeze
Under willow branches;
They dance to music
Our parents heard. Below the ground
Water swells; small blooms glow under the trees.

– © rjn, June 2020


Late at night, my dreams wander the Louvre*,
Walters, Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Museo del Prado*. Empty halls
Lined by oils, sketches, sculpture, gems,
Streaming light. Footprints in the dust
Remember the last visitors.

This is jet lag from a dream without crowds.
No one in front of Goyas, Picassos, Cassatts.
Faces stare from paintings -- mute surprise
That a visitor breaks their sleep.
And me, I'm dislocated, as though
Tired from transatlantic travel.

These trips give me time to stare at the paint
On the Mona Lisa without others crowding,
Standing, pacing and blocking the view.
I miss the noise, hushed excitement.
In the hall, dust motes from footsteps
Swirl upward in a stray sunbeam.

- copyright (C) RJN April 15, 2020

* I have only planned trips to visit the Louvre and the Museo del Prado. Those trips are now on hold. Someday!

Reading: Marianne Moore

My copy of Marianne Moore‘s Collected Poems comes from beloved uncle B, who was the chaplain when Moore received her Litterarum Humaniorium Doctor (L.H.D.) degree. His copy of the Convocation bulletin is tucked inside the book, which let me know Uncle B passed it on to me. I hadn’t thought modern poetry was his thing. Red convertibles, P.G. Wodehouse, fob watches and briar wood pipes are part of my jumbled memories of this kind minister, who always remembered my birthday.

I’m currently reading and re-reading the poem “Light is Speech”. Here’s a snippet:

“Yes light is speech. Free frank / impartial sunlight, moonlight, / starlight, lighthouse light, / are language. The Creach’h / d’ Ouessant light- / house on its defenseless dot of / rock is the descendant of Voltaire….”

Marianne Moore, “Light is Speech” Collected Poems.

It’s a complicated poem, and this snippet doesn’t do it justice. I’m not sure the poem is the right way up in my head, but it helps to ponder it while I try to stave off anxiety. I read a section of poetry, then I knit a few rows of a pretty plain sock. Fortified by this and tea, I check in on work invoices and hope things get better. If you wish to find a copy of the poem, I think it’s only in print. Here’s a WorldCat search for Marianne Moore’s poetry.

I hope things are getting better where you are, and that there’s a lighthouse of talk (with friends and family over the phone) to buoy your spirits and guide you to calm.

Between storms

The moon peeks out, like a golden imp,

framed by milkhaze clouds in the dark sky.

Storms roll through, all exclamation marks and gouts of rain.

People dash for doorsteps, pelting through puddles,

struggling with umbrellas, peering from beneath rainhoods.

The moon peeks out after everything is quiet. Birds chirp about wet feet.

Something creaks in the darkness. Now is the between. (C) 2018, RJ N

Spring blossoms

crocusesCelebrate first blooms…

Snowdrops gaze while crocuses

Toss their sun-tipped heads.


Current status of the world: March is definitely roaring like a lion from offshore. It’s chilly here in the northern hemisphere, even for those of us that have sun. Yesterday we had snow showers that were like moving fog, so I’m enjoying today and going to a park this afternoon, under many layers.

If you want better poetry, try Seelenkarussell’s site (in German).


grasses snow

When clouds reach down to touch the trees,
Their sides snag on tree branches
Dragging against edges until —
Tear, rip, torn —
They spill onto the fields.
Snow drifts against the hedgerows.

© rjn, January 11, 2018

Quick notes on the poem: this was written after watching grey clouds race low across the sky, then seem to struggle in the trees on top of a hill. In the struggle, they dumped snow in an abrupt misty downpour. By the end, the clouds had disappeared into the other clouds above them. All that was left was a fine grit of snow over everything.

If I were a cartoonist, I would have drawn the snow squall as cloud ghosts who were wringing their hands and wailing, while the edges of their wrappings got tangled in the branches.

Autumn ebbs

pumpkinAutumn arrives with October, rising then ebbing

Like a tidal river;

We watch the skies for rain, scan trees for turning leaves…

Worry about winter.

When, really… autumn continues to dance with summer,

Impishly backtracking

Until summer boils our brains, and autumn chills our bones.



Relax into a poem by Elan Mudrow

I sit with her Placing her in memory Giving thoughts strength, yet In her silence, she frightens me. I rely on others Camping upon her shore To soothe my worry. And although I haven’t Seen her rimmed with snow Echoing the clearest of nights, Pitted with raindrops Upon her clear face, Witnessed her held tight […]

via Mountain Lake — Elan Mudrow


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