Writer's Angst

Searching for inspiration at the end of a long day
as the pets sleep sprawled out in various parts of the room.

Today’s news brought no inspiration.
Today’s work brought no inspiration.
Toady’s commute brought no inspiration.

I look around the house
The drift wood and sea pictures hung on one wall
a painting by my daughter hung on another.

A spray bottle sits on the piano
next to a metronome, barometer
and a wicker basket of old tin cookie cutters;
there’s a story in there somewhere.

But I’ve seen all this time and time again.
Still I search for inspiration
lest this evening’s poem
sound too much like a writing exercise.

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Death, Dreams, and Poetry

I’ve been having a lot of strange dreams recently, and have remembered enough of a few of them to write parts of them in the morning. Last Monday, I had one that was particularly striking.

The scene shifts to a man going out on a boat during a storm. He has four objects, including, four donuts, some sort of statue wrapped in black to throw overboard, and two other objects which I don’t know what they are. Later, the man, and his aunt are washed ashore. He was not able to throw the object overboard and did not eat the donuts. They have drowned and the whole dreams moves into a mournful wake.

A had a very strong reaction to this dream fragment, a sense of loss and a calling to reconnect with distant family members. I only have one remaining uncle, and two remaining aunts, and I haven’t been in touch with my uncle and his family in decades. Was this some sort of message to reach out to them?

I tried to track them down online, and sent off an email to a possible relative who might be able to help me get in touch with them.

Recently, my cousin died, and it turns out her memorial service was the day after I had that dream. I’ve slowly gotten bits of information. Perhaps that fed into my dream, but I haven’t figured much more.

Today, two more friends posted obituaries on Facebook.

Meanwhile, I continue to post a poem a day for Lent. There are times that it is a struggle to put together my thoughts and words. Other times, it feels like they come too quickly, too easily.

I’m thinking a lot about poetry as a tool to help people look at life differently. I think about it in terms of political discourse and all the hatred online. Since everything I do is tied to my religious and political beliefs, I suspect all my poems carry some of this to varying levels.

Today, a friend shared a poem on Facebook, and pointed to others sharing poems. Perhaps we can get more poetry shared online. I also got an indirect message from my father about one of my poems. He, and a friend both liked the poem which referenced times we had canoed together.

Now, my poem for the day is written. I’ve done some reading and shortly will head off to sleep to see what other dreams come, and then, tomorrow, to see if others have posted of death, dreams, or poetry online.

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Background Music

In a crowded café
a struggling young musician
tries to be heard
above the din;
the clink of plates and dishes
and the excited talk of the patrons.

It’s a fundraiser
for a local charity
which seeks to care
for the downtrodden.

Even the dress she is wearing,
hand made by a talented aunt
will be auctioned off.

The attendees
are so busy doing good
that they don’t even notice
the beautiful poignancy of her song,

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Spring Run Off

The first slow drips become steadier
as the sun beats down
on the ice dams
on the roof.

I remember the streams of spring run off
trickling down the road
on the way to the bus stop.

We would stop and build dams
made of the sand
that had been spread on the icy roads
during the winter.

In school, I would learn about
Smetana’s Moldau
a symphonic poem
starting from two small springs
not much different from the spring runoff
making its way down the road
towards the bus stop.

Later, as the weather got warmer
we would canoe down the Battenkill
swollen from the spring run off
before it slowed back down
to an indolent summer river
passing New England farmland.

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The Road to Damascus

Yesterday, a friend posted on Facebook,

Stop calling members of ISIS "barbarians" and "animals." Just stop.

I hate ISIS. I've hated them since before they named themselves back when they were just beginning to emerge in the vacuum of power in Syria. I've been practically screaming for three years on Twitter to anyone who would listen about the growing danger they represented.

But the reality is ISIS is made up of human beings. Many of whom you might have walked past on the street, ridden the subway with, sat next to at Starbucks - before they grew out their beards, changed clothes and took up arms....

When we participate in using language that DE-humanizes other human beings, we increase our own capacity for participating in or supporting acts of evil committed in our name - or, yes, in God's name.

What do you think makes it possible for a member of ISIS to saw off another human being's head or throw him off a building to his death because he is gay? If ISIS members saw those people as fully human, how might it be different?

This morning, I read a line from a different friend on Facebook

Praying that an Apostle Paul would raise up out of ISIS - and praying for justice.

That post brought up comments from others about how Damascus is in Syria, so who knows. Another person commented that they’ve been sharing the same prayer for a few weeks.

Now, I realize this may rile up some of my atheist or anti-Islamic friends, but it seems to hit at a much more important underlying theme that transcends religious dogma. Failing to recognize the humanity of every person, no matter how inhumanely they have acted. Is the first step to becoming inhumane ourselves.

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