Not Today

Today marks the second day of PAD – Poem a Day – for this year. This is a yearly challenge by Robert Brewer of Writer’s Digest. You can read more about it HERE  I think this makes my 7th year of participation. I will be posting some of my poems here throughout the month.

 

Today’s prompt was “not today”.  Here is my attempt:

not today

 

Once

 

Once a slamming door rattled the picture on the wall in the living room

I bellowed “settle down”

which you did for two minutes

 

Laughter and foot patters echoed through the upstairs

I smiled to myself in contentment

knowing you were up to something

 

We would roll down the windows and sing off key

the wind tangling our curls

carrying our voices into the treetops

but today I sing alone, softly

 

You and James played in the rain

floating boats in the gutter

then stripped off your clothes in the garage

 

You always called dibs on the shower

on the way home from the beach

anxious to rid yourself of the sand in your suit

 

Last week I found that picture we took

on the way to Georgia

with Smokey the Bear

you in your black knee highs

me when my hair was long

and I smiled

 

But not today

 

 

You can read PAD Day One HERE.

 

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Time Out

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“Christianity is more than a moral code, more than a philosophy, more than a system of rites… It is more than a belief; it is a life.” – Thomas Merton

The prompt for PAD on April fourteenth was “Time out”. This is what came to mind…

Time Out
If I am being told to
Take time out to
smell the roses
Then more than likely
I need to take more time
And take more than a whiff
Perhaps I need to remember Who
Put the roses there
And not just who planted them
But Who created roses
And tulips and clouds
And me
Maybe I need to
Take time out
To say a prayer of thanksgiving
And to give someone a rose
Or a hug or a meal
Maybe I need to
Take a time out
From myself

Cathy – Part One

Those friends from middle school are unique. They are the ones you grow up with and make memories with that last forever. I’ve drifted away from most of those, but about six years ago I reunited with Cathy and we became closer than ever. It’s like we fell right back into that kinship that all the years had not erased. We began to hang out now a few times a month – it might have been a concert, listening to an author speak, going to a class, poking through a bookstore, or whatever we could find to do. A few years ago we even went to several funerals together. In March I had to go to one alone. Hers.

I don’t even know where to begin to think about Cathy. She was the kind of person who made you feel she was truly interested in you and your well-being.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

Cathy truly stuck close to me, like the sister I never had. I could talk to her about anything. I don’t think I’ll ever have another friend like her. I thank God for the time he gave us.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. – Psalm 116:15

In Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, Aunt Ellen was described as “…seeming exactly strong enough for what was needed for her life.”

This is so much like Cathy. She had a quiet strength that took her to the end with hope and grace. For the two years we corresponded via snail mail and texts, she never grumbled. Rarely would she  mention a hardship, but when she did it was more like she was just telling me about it, not complaining. She would talk about the future, the adventures we would have. When I went to home to Jacksonville  and took her out, she never let on how long it took her to get ready; how she had to wait for some of the drugs to get out of her system before she could function.

We would go out to eat and she would eat like a bird, then have the rest packed up to take home. But, we would sit at the restaurant for several hours just talking.

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“Books were there… when I found a friend who loved books as much as I did and we could read together or spend an afternoon running our fingers over the spines.” -Mandy Shunnarah, from I Don’t Do It For You: A Reader’s Manifesto via her blog, Off The Beaten Shelf

This was us – we could spend hours rambling around bookstores like Chamblin’s Uptown in downtown Jacksonville. I will always miss my book buddy.

Hide Outs

The topic for day nine of the PAD challenge was “hide outs.” I thought back to the carefree days of my youth when my friend Christy, who lived across the street, and I would tramp through the woods. We had great imaginations, if not the best carpentry skills. My big brother and his friends had some really cool forts and we would sneak in them when they weren’t around. But, they didn’t know where ours was. It was truly a secret.

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Midway between here and nowhere
We had a hideout in the woods
Away from the fort the boys made
Across a tiny  minnow-filled creek
Through a patch of bamboo
Our own place to hide out
Adventures in the midst of suburbia

You can read more “Hide Out” poems HERE.

Labor to Shine as Lights

 

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In a book by Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, she quotes from Chekov’s letters: “You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures….It’s your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly, to be prepared …for failures.”

I needed this advice last year when I received a rejection via email. I had submitted three poems to a new literary magazine. I was really hoping that at least ONE might make it. I had two people look over 6-7poems and tell me which ones they thought were best. Evidently the judges weren’t in agreement.

I have since experienced several other “failures”. Is failure to be expected? Yes. Does it hurt? Sure. Is it easy to “…go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly…”? No, unless we stop and realize that this is what we are supposed to do. Life isn’t all about limelights and successes. Contrary to popular belief, spouted by coaches and educators, we can’t all be whatever we want to be. But, we can all labor to shine as lights in the world.

Do all things without complaining and disputing, 1 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Philippians 2:14-16

Quiet and Still

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Andrew Murray wrote a book titled Abiding in Christ, originally published in 1895 but still relevant today. The posts in this series are a combination of his thoughts and mine.

Among the lessons to be learned…there is none more needful and more profitable than cultivating a stillness of soul.

I still have to learn this lesson. I allow myself to be so easily distracted by the world, so easily sidetracked into wasting time. Murray talks about looking out for needless entertainment. And this was WAY before the advent of the internet!

We must watch even in lawful and necessary things against the wondrous power these have to keep the soul so occupied that there remains little power or zest for fellowship with God.

Just because something is lawful does not mean it is helpful or that is will edify us.

Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife. – Proverbs 17:1

The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” –Zephaniah 3:17