Poetry + Writing

It’s all about your heart.

Hey you,

I love your heart.
It’s good.
It’s pure.
It’s tender.
It’s lovely.
It’s bigger than the moon.
It’s grander than Time Square.
It’s wider than a drive through Kansas.
It’s one of the most beautiful things on earth.
It’s powerful.
It’s strong.
It’s limitless.
It was made to love you first,
but sometimes you give it away to other people,
thinking you’ll take care of you later.
That’s a bad idea.
Apply the magic of your heart
to your own scars first.
Then, you’ll have your own heart longer
and you’ll be able to love others greater.
Be selfish with your heart
as long as you need to
because
my heart will always be here waiting
for yours to come and play.

The End

I started writing this for my husband. He teases that he is going through emotional adolescence right now. He is. It’s not always fun being a teenager, and his emotional phase doesn’t come with Friday night parties and summers at the beach. Dangit. However, I can’t wait to see the guy who emerges. I guess I’ve been married to an emotional child for almost 20 years without even knowing it.

I’m so proud of my man and the hard work that he has done to get in touch with a buried heart. It’s scary to stare at yourself in a mirror. It’s horrifying at times. It’s the hardest work any of us will ever do, and he does that hard work for me, and me alone. He makes me feel important with his journeying. He’s wandering through the Sahara only to reach the Artic…just looking for his heart, so he can give it to me. Sometimes, I hate the journey and wonder why it has to be so hard. Other times, I see peeks at gloriousness. I feel lucky. Even though we have had so much to learn, we’ve been privileged to learn it together.

I changed the way I wrote the poem to not be just for my husband. It’s for everyone because we all should have the high honor of someone loving us just for our heart.

Thank you Mindy Gledhill for a beautiful song.

A Simply Marvelous Life

caroline-harpWhile going through old class notes for my current paper, I found this story I wrote last spring. I remember how it made the student that presented after me cry. I felt so bad as she approached the podium upset. She explained that my story was especially tender to her because her dad had passed away recently. How was I to know that within months I’d be in the same “dad gone” boat?

I remember telling my dad of our plan to take a gift to the orphan boys and how he loved it. He wholeheartedly sanctioned it to my kids and he shared an inspiring story of his own. He cried. What a tender memory. He believed in the art of compassion. He lived the art. How grateful I am for him and his  example. He inherently knew that the true joy of life was within our relationships with others.

I am grateful to have come across this story today. I’ve been in a school slump, not feeling up to the writing task. Today’s discovery reminded me of the importance of storytelling. Even if I am not the most eloquent storyteller.

A Simply Marvelous Life

“Those poor, poor boys,” Mother said loud enough for the room to hear as she read the newspaper. I asked her, “What boys?” She explained. Twenty years before she used to work with this guy. They were nothing more than acquaintances. “But still, it’s just so tragic.” He was dead now among the remains of his personal jet. It crashed on take-off in Colorado. The crash also killed his wife, and two of his five children.

Mother seemed obsessed over the three children left. It was hard to understand how complete strangers to her sabotaged her heart for months. She talked about them to everyone. Her friends. Her kids. Sometimes she would even talk to random strangers about how grateful she was to be alive. “Shopping with a toddler is hard, but it makes it easier when I think about how blessed I am to be alive.” When the family knelt in the family room every night, mother would sometimes pray out loud for the family. “Bless those boys.”  When I complained about chores or homework or getting my phone taken away, she would remind me to be grateful. “You have both your parents, and all of your siblings. Remember, life is marvelous.” When Christmas neared mother told us that in the quiet of one morning she heard a voice in her mind. It was a woman begging, “They must have a gift from us under the tree.” Asking our forgiveness mother said she hoped we’d understand her stealing from us. She had withdrawn from her Christmas account, upsetting her carefully budgeted plan, to buy something for the orphans. She apologized and explained that we might have a little less this year. “But, I just feel it my duty to provide a gift for them from their dead mother. I can hear her voice as clear as day. I can’t ignore it.”

As Father drove us to the next town over, Mother watched her five elves stretch and giggle among the large sack of gifts in the back. The wrapped gifts would be left anonymously. “Because that is the best kind of giving,” mother said. The boys’ names, the ones their mother gave them, were monogrammed on their blankets. A note was included reminding them of their mother’s love, all the way from heaven. “She had found a way to hug them, through the mind of a stranger.”

Mother had done some serious sleuthing to get the names and address of the boys, but could hardly believe her eyes as they pulled up. When they verified the house number to the information on the paper in mother’s hand, everyone voiced their utter shock. A chorus of “no way” echoed the yelps of surprise as the vehicle reached the top of the mountain. The boys lived in a literal mansion. Mother laughed. “What in the world?” We all told her we should take the gifts back home, but she directed her elves to drop the gifts on the doorstep. “Be quiet. Don’t let anyone see you. Hurry up before someone calls the police.” As we sprinted our way back to the modest minivan that cowered under the massive gate, my little sister spared a glance for a golden harp glowing through the windowed fortress. We jumped in. The tires peeled. My baby sister described the harp’s shine to her amused mother. How badly Caroline wanted a harp. She had even written to Santa for one. She didn’t know what I knew.  Santa had already bought her a harpsichord. It was the last Christmas purchase she had made right after the wrapping for the boys’ blankets.

We never knew it, but in those first few moments driving home, mother deeply questioned the meaning of helping where help didn’t seem to be needed. Those boys had more than she or hers ever would. The answer came quick, at the traffic light on the way home. Flashing behind her eyes, red and green, it spelled one word. C-o-m-p-a-s-s-i-o-n. Mother turned to dad and said, “I guess tonight we got to help meet an emotional need, not a physical one.”  Yes, compassion knows no class structure. Or biases. Only pure love. And that night both mothers had managed, from separate realms, to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.

The next day mother listened as her baby girl, surrounded by her parents and four siblings, transformed our family’s condo into a two-bedroom castle with music from her harpsichord. As Mother closed her eyes to enjoy the marvelous moment, a familiar angel voice spoke to her mind one last time, “It sounds just like my harp.”

 

He Shuts Her Out

He shuts her out.
Again and again.
For years on end.
Every time it’s harder.
Every time it’s hell.

He shuts her down.
Time after time.
She listens
but does not understand
the silence.

He shuts her door
and walks out cold.
He’s as mad as red,
but won’t admit
the honest cause.

He shuts her heart
and deems it untrue.
Her intentions are
misconstrued.
She wants nothing but him.

He shuts her mouth.
She can’t say a thing
that will make
him understand
his rejection’s blow.

Because his is always
more
larger
complicated
and unknown.

He shuts her out.
She can’t get in.
She sits alone
and wonders
if he will ever

Let her in.
To see a place
that has been
transformed
just for her.

He shuts her out.
She’ll never know.
He won’t clean house.
It scares him so
much more than she does.

Reverenced

Red hair, black shirt.
Sitting at a short table.
Food in front.
Ocean spray juice in a plastic bottle
with a blue lid.
I can smell the pasta
from my circular booth.
Marinara.
It shouts at my nostrils.
I’m cheap. I’m microwaved.
I’m in a flimsy black bowl.
It all sits still, untouched.
Laid out neatly
as if waiting for a queen.
Drink on left.
Pasta in the middle.
Napkin and plastic fork on the right.
Her head bows.
Reverencing her meal
in contrast to her hair.
Her bright pink hair.
It’s not red.
It’s pink.
Bright pink
like a darker-dyed flamingo.
And it fades and ombres into
Cindy Lauper.
All the way down her back.
She is bowing.
Bowing.
It’s been a minute.
At least a minute.
She is still.
She is grateful.
She is reverent.
She is praying.
With her pink hair.
Her flaming hair.
The hair that screams
rebel.
I’m a rebel.
I’m a rebel queen.
And I have a Father.
A Father God.
And she stands.
Her belly is bulging.
A princess is waiting.
Her hair may be pink.
Just like her mother.
Her rebel mother.
The Queen
with a Father.

A Poetess’ Hamartia

I’ve been studying Dorothy Wordsworth this morning. She is the sister of the British great, William Wordsworth. Both Wordsworths were close friends with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Come to find out, many of the journal entries of Dorothy are included in the works of William Wordsworth and Coleridge. They stole many of her observations! She had a very keen eye and a knack for object description. Although she was never published in her life, she has since been recognized for her role in literary history. She explained writing some of her poems because “I shall give William pleasure by it.”

While reading her journals I am thinking she was a predecesor to the great Annie Dillard. I like to think I share both of these women’s love for all things natural. I aim to have their abilities in describing the physical world. Someday.

Dorothy eventually ended up having a mental collapse in 1835; her brother, William, cared for her for 20 years until he died. She had suffered a severe personality alteration. Once viviacious and sweet, she became insufferable as an invalid and would act aggressively. My text blamed her mental breakdown on being overworked during her entire adult life, playing secretary to her brother and helper of his household. (Norton Anthology of English Lit. Vol. 2, p. 403) As a mother of five, being overworked is something I can identify with on a cellular level. I am so grateful I have modern medicine to assist with my own brain chemistry. So many great writers were shamefully stagnated by their lunacy.

dorothy

A Poetess’ Hamartia

My dearest dad I cannot go
unless I can see as now.
The hues of yellow as they infuse
upon the palish brough.

But child of mine, sharp poetess
impossible it ’tis for thee
a mortal mind is far too fragile
to perceive that kind of beauty.

I shall not go then, father fixed
I cannot bear the break
Seeing and hearing the pink petticoats
All lifelong without, I’d ache

Okay sweet one, but you must go
A concession I’ll make to you.
But there will be a price to pay
For omniscient skills so true

Oh thanks daddy, please do make it so
Thy sight is vital to my soul
Creation must not be concealed from me
I accept the price and toll.

All right my lovely keeper of British countryside
Thy eyes will stay immortal to see
but thy mortal mind won’t always understand
Sentinel keen, thou on earth will be.

I’ll be crazy. I’ll be haunted.
I will take the pain and mental stops
Confusion may come and invalid me
in my millions of diamond drops.

Each One of Us

He computes, analyzes.
So intelligent, but has no confidence.

She toils and serves.
So capable, but doesn’t believe she really makes any difference.

She is beautiful, talented.
So phenomenal, but doesn’t trust herself.

She is artistic, and a symphonic joy.
So welcoming, but she shuts the world out.

She is bold, and kind.
So forceful, but she loves everyone but herself.

They won’t find their part in the symphony
until they believe
each one of us
is glorious.

My universe

The_life_of_Sun-like_stars

Thank you Wikipedia for this striking image. Find it here.

In all the vasts of nothingness
she cannot perceive a thing
though she strains her eyes.

It seems dark is sovereignty.
Blackness rules mighty.

Positive she’s a lone piece of refuse
discarded among the night,
She strains for strength
unaware of adorations from afar.

A drop of water fosters.
A breeze bolsters.
Anamnesis drives her forward.
Toward north.

A glow appears
trailing behind
creating a well-lit footprint
as she crawls, then walks.

Another clasps her hand.
Instinctually binary,
they learn to run and dance.

The two will bond a galaxy
of their very own.

And they will be a sun.

They’ll send stars
into the night.

Forever
she’ll christen them with tears.
And he’ll whisper in the wind.

Nows

caroline, blog

Forever – is composed of Nows – (690)

BY EMILY DICKINSON

Forever  is composed of Nows
‘Tis not a different time
Except for Infiniteness
And Latitude of Home
From this experienced Here
Remove the Dates to These
Let Months dissolve in further Months
And Years exhale in Years
Without Debate
or Pause
Or Celebrated Days
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Dominies

Today’s message came from here.

A Writer’s World

I had to write an emergence myth for my Wilderness Writing class. I’ve struggled with it all semester. My professor is all about the process of writing, so he doesn’t just take our assignments, grade them, and hand them back. He gives feedback, workshops, and hopes for his students to grow and evolve. As a black/white enthusiast this has been beyond difficult for me. The class is finished in two weeks and I have not even a hint at my earned grade. I’ve had to work on multiple projects at once. I’ve hit a lot of walls. I’ve vacillated between utter despair and overpowering revelation. This was the perfect class to initiate me back to school. I’m glad I stuck with it.

Here is my Emergence Myth, A Writer’s World. This emerged after five weeks of inner turmoil. I’m proud of it. It is the most personally powerful piece I have ever written. I hope it will be followed by many more that are nothing like it.

Her name was Nobody. All she wanted was to be a Somebody. Somebodies were better. Somebodies were happier. Somebodies were successful. So, she signed up for Somebody school. She left her stifling dreary brown Nobody world without looking back and happily entered the newest Somebody classroom with glass walls. Holding a pen and paper in her hand, surrounded by Somebodies and other people learning to be Somebodies, she felt happier. She thought only of Somebody ways. She tried to learn their words. She studied their beliefs. She liked the Somebodies. And they liked her. But when she went to sleep at night staring at the books in her lap, she felt like she was living a lie. She didn’t know how to write Somebody stories, even though that is all she ever wanted to do. So she read all of the great Somebody myths. She pondered Somebody tradition and she tried harder to copy the Somebodies. But everything felt like it was wrong.

Nobody was persistent and brave. She would not give up without a fight. She stopped talking as much and started to listen. She found better tools and used them to build new ideas. After a lot of hard work she surprised herself when she started questioning the ways of Somebodies. She couldn’t believe that along the journey she was somehow convinced that Somebodies weren’t always right. What happened to that Nobody girl that worshipped all the Somebodies? She had changed her own mind. Somebodies didn’t do it. She did it. She realized that Nobodies could be good and happy and successful too. In fact, the only difference between Nobodies and Somebodies was their names. She didn’t need to be a Somebody any more. She could be a Nobody. That was perfectly acceptable. She felt liberated.

She started to think about going back to Nobody world until she had a rude awakening. The only reason she believed Nobodies were good now was because Somebodies had taught her so. Now what? She was still a Nobody, but was also a Somebody. Where would she fit in? The answer wasn’t with the Somebodies. Desperate, she allowed herself to look through the glass walls back out to Nobody world. Mountains had emerged. The skies were every color of the rainbow with clouds of all shapes and sizes. The vegetation was magnificently varied. The animals seemed to holler at her to tell their story. Nobodies never saw those things. She was no longer a Nobody.

She decide she had to stay at Somebody school, even if she didn’t want to give up her Nobody parts. She didn’t know what she would become. Maybe she should just be a writer? Maybe she could tell Somebody stories and Nobody stories? Maybe the best stories would be about Somebody and Nobody together? She looked at her paper, her new world was in it. It was totally blank, but she was not scared. She started to fill it, one letter at a time. She made Nobody words. She made Somebody sentences. She changed them all around and rearranged voraciously. Over and over and over again. She deleted some and added some others. The paper took the form of a glass building surrounded by a bounteous earth. Sometimes there was a Somebody inside, sometimes a Nobody outside, but neither would ever be confined again. Her new world was in the paper and it would be whatever she imagined.

The Input

inputAs you all know, I started back to college last month. It’s an exciting time for me personally because I am finally pursuing a life-long dream of becoming a better writer and a teacher.

Problematic to the ideal, however, is the fact that I am almost forty-two years old and smack-dab in the middle of my life as well as my motherhood. My life was already not for sissies before I started school. I have five kids and although I don’t have a “career”, my brain is already on the verge of explosion a good majority of the time.

“Mom, where is my bathing suit?”
“Mom, can I go to Wyoming with my boyfriend in July to pick up fireworks?”
“Mom, I need toilet paper.”
“Mom, stop lecturing me.”
“waaaa.”

That is what it sounds like around here at all times.

Then add in the hubby…well, we won’t even go there. On Tuesday, he came home with horrific tooth pain and was laying on the couch in extreme discomfort. I was the one to call the endodontist to insist that the man not wait another three days to be seen. It’s just what I do. Like LG’s paycheck, everyone expects what I get done around here.

Starting school was a really scary venture for me in my delicate psychiatric capacity. From the get-go I was having an extremely hard time processing all of the new information at school. Yes, I have a boatload going on at home, but the mom stuff is an old hat. The problem is the old hat doesn’t just jump down to make way for the new one. I feel like the Berenstein Bear in Old Hat, New Hat. I wanted to just run back home to my old comfortable hat and forget about the limitless possibilities they constantly explore at the university level. Lucky for me, if motherhood teaches anyone anything it is that YOU JUST CAN’T  QUIT.  So, I’ve stuck in there. I’m not a star pupil, but I’m a pupil.

My biggest problem with school is that it is making me feel like an awful writer. It has scared me so bad that I don’t even want to write anymore. It isn’t fun when it’s all just technicality-centered. My professor is a good guy and a really smart talented dude, but his emphasis is on work-shopping, which has just left me feeling like I can’t do anything right. Trust me when I say this, everything anyone writes can always be better. And everything of mine really seems to need to work. I know it does, that is why I wanted to go back to school, to learn, but still it is hard to keep trying when it feels like I’ll never be a “great”.

So, today, I come to the blog to vent…to get back to the place in writing that I love, baring my soul. Sometimes I just have to write without thinking about the noun to verb ratio and whether or not my syntax is going to be subjectively admired. Sometimes I just need to write…to write…and for no other reason than to organize my brain with way too much input. Honestly, I am trying really hard to believe my professor that all good writing is not random. I personally believe it is only defined as “good” by the readers and that one thing can be total crap to one person and the same thing can be a masterpiece to another.

I feel better already. This is why I love to write. It organizes the craziness in my mind. Constantly, I have too much going on in there, and if I can leave it on paper, I can move on…and only then.

Writing is my output. What is yours? Maybe I can convert…because this might not work out for me. Ha.