Inspired By Feathers, Fur and Friends

I find it a bit ironic that it is National Poetry Month 2015 and these dry bones are not giving up much poetry. Or prose or words of any genre. Nice timing, right? That it is Springtime and nearly everything around me here in the South is green or pink or fuschia and lime. New birth, earthy moist and hopeful surrounds me. Lifts my spirits high and yet paradoxically seems to mock my writing life. It is not in sync with the world. My words sit at the bottom of a dry well.

As a writer, inspiration can come from the seemingly strangest of places. Truly. This is a bit confessional and a lot inspirational for others who find themselves in a dry place creatively.

So yes, I have been tending to six baby chickens. Loving them, naming them and studying them. Trying to figure out all their hunting and pecking strategies or randomness and simply why they do what they do. It is like a mini Anthropology course but not so much because they are, duh, chickens. And so this won’t be the longest introduction ever to a poetry blog post, I will move on. Move forward with this poetry segway. Or segway into a poem which breaks the silence.

I just hung up from Voxering a bit ago with my friend in London, Shelly Miller. I whined about, slash confessed, my lack of writing inspiration. Is Voxering a verb? And then I promptly promised someone in Europe that I would make myself write today.

Make myself? What?

What happened to passion and for the love of the craft and “I can’t not write?” Shelly and I lamented and then if that wasn’t enough I Voxered my friend Sandra Heska King in Michigan to whine some more. Some days require bicontinental consolation.

And after all the whining I realized all the inspiration I needed for today was found in studying my chickens hunting and pecking and scratching. They work with what they have. If they can do it I can too. And gazing at my old yellow lab who may live another week if we are lucky. She wanders around in search of joy. I believe I’ve got this.

If my old girl can find joy in her slow and lethargic wanderings. Well, this writer can too.

And my friends, who are writers and artists, whispering just the write things at just the right time into my life as a creative. That feeds my soul.

I am grateful for the fur, the feathers and the friends. And for how they fuel my passion for writing. Light a match to the fading embers. Move me from thinking of writing, to actually writing again.

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That Poem

Elusive, it refused to be tied down
Like a thought bubble in a Dennis The Menace cartoon
It floated
Adrift
Like an apparition in search of a place to lay down and rest
Or die

The knock comes
Disregarding the “do not disturb” sign rocking back and forth on the brass knob
You mouth “go away”
White lies are for times like these
I am out of paper comes to mind
And the computer is on the blink
The cartridge in your favorite pen is low

The problem with come back another time
Is that though the poem is thick skinned
It will not
Come back

It will check in, unwritten, into the retirement home with no waiting list
And go the way of the unwritten words
Feet up, watching Jeopardy

And the poet who barred the door shut?
She’s
Still wondering where childhood and all the lost poems went
And how to repentantly ask her poems for forgiveness
For ever training them to play that game
Of cat and mouse

For in the end
The rat takes the cheese
The sign comes off the door
A win, win
For that poet and
That poem

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Joining Tweetspeak Poetry using a one line prompt from today’s Everyday Poetry poem “Where Childhood Went’ by Kim Addonizio.

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Not As They Appear, These Things, At All

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Feet in the sand blue sky canopy we step into the day. She painter, artist, friend. I write.
We walk into the day. She paints. I weave words, slice them up and move them all around.
There is an unfurling that begins, feet hit the ground, sun up, eyes up. It is what it is.
Or it is what you see, you see. Or how.

You should paint that.. I say, she sees. We see together, we see  different.
And I tell her what it is that I am seeing in the rags flapping in the wind. Barnacle laiden flying into the blue.

I tell her of my love for what looks like burlap, though it is not. When we look closer, the burlap was a mesh. It was not as it appeared.

We see different.

And isn’t that the way of the artist. Her art hangs on gallery wall, exhibited and displayed in place of prominence, by selection. Money changes hands between artist and art lover.

Her beautiful eye and her beautiful hand and her beautiful palette of paints will see the world in one beautiful way. The way of artist Laurie.

So she will not paint the flapping brown rags released on  line to dry out in the sun, bake out the pluff mud this tool of Lowcountry oyster catcher man.

No she will not paint it, not at all. She will not, can not paint it, paint them, filthy rags.

She will not paint the worn bags on a canvas, capture the bits of white stuck in the mesh like diamonds adorning the fabric of royal silk. Value and beauty in the rubble hanging and dancing in the salty Lowcountry wind, this day.

They whisper to me, come write my story.

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Of where I have been drenched in the sea in worn hands of man. Of where I have been dragged across the jagged shore and held the shells which hold the pearl. Holding on and holding dinner.

Out to sea and back again. Out and back, dragged and drug and hung again. To flap and sail swinging in the wind. Tool of man, art to one.

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And feet back in  the sand, dog in hand, under the oaks we walk and talk. Hit the road.  And stop to stare at peacock, hen. As she stands statuesque. I know this bird. But if we had not met I would have thought her dead, not alive. Her stillness, still as stone, her glassy stare belied a bird alive.

Things different. Things changed. Things not quite as they appear after all.

And painter friend she sees what I do not. This walk of artists in the sand. Brings eyes. They collide seeing different. Seeing same.

The Lowcountry  littered with joggling boards. Rite of passage for every child along the way. In the south, for children’s play.

And lady peacock, hen has her own. A perch which I could not see. My eyes beheld the beauty  only of the bird.  At first.

But two together, they double the image, compound beauty.

Bird on a beam. Bird on a board. Bird suspended mid-air. We stare.

So painter, writer see the world through different eyes. But the beauty is compounded when combined.

So husband, father,  wife and mother,  Christian One and Christian Two. We all do. Our views collide and complement. Artist, painter, artist, writer.

He brings his eyes and I bring mine. She sees the bird up on the board. At first I see the peacock hen and then the board. She is my improved vision. She corrects the lens on life. He is my improved vision. He corrects my lens on life. The complement, the shift in view. Four eyes, two hearts can see together what alone we cannot.

Four friends in search of oysters for our meal and we prefer the singles. Stop by the market ,ask around. Ask some more. The singles are the best and more expensive than the others. The clusters are  less desirable in the oyster world.

We buy the clusters or it is no oysters at all. Grab the knives, hold them hot. Fresh from the steamer, grab the hot sauce, lemon and the saltine cracker, eat them up. Can’t get enough. Oysters, hot, delicious clusters. We convert. We elevate these mangled masses of jagged shell to a status new for lover of this delightful delicacy.

And in the world of seafood too. Things are not as they appear. There is delicious delight en masse in groups. These clusters delight the souls of man under the crescent moon. Split open each with a frenzied pace. And let them slide down the throat into the belly.

If you love oysters.

You would love the clusters. The singles no where to be found, the hot commodity. In demand.

We huddle up and split open each, one by one, the oysters held in groups of white grey calloused shell.

The gift is in the blended views. We are lost. We are found. We are both.

We are better with each other. Artist, writer, painter, friend, husband, wife, Christian One and Christian Two. Poetry and prose.

I need you. You help me see. I am found. I am lost. I am both.

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Joining Laura and Ann today.

And counting gifts with Ann

*New ways of seeing life

*Old friends

*Days on the coast, rediscovering old favorites

*Consoling a child in her grief and finding beauty in the loss of life. Somewhere.

*Hearing a friend’s words at just the right time.

*Watching the dog herd her free range chickens. And delighting in the dance and art there

*Walking in the sun

*Walking under the moon

*New mercies

*New vision
new fave for art quote

The Big Yellow Metaphor

{This post is part of an ongoing series reflecting on  my experiences on a wild and wonderful journey. A big colorful artful adventure, one  from New York to South Carolina as part of a team on The Art Bus Project roadtrip.}

Audrey. And others. They were my teachers.

I just went to summer school. And my classroom was a big yellow school bus.

The bus, my classroom screams loudly the lessons over the din of heavy black tires on I-95. Yells out over hot highway with her yellow zippered lines marking the lessons. Shouts Truth over the swoosh of passing eighteen wheelers in the fast lane and the screech of breaks on near missed turns. Through tolls and toils she lays out the lesson plan to her student held captive within the yellow walls.

My team members on The Art Bus Project, part of the teaching staff. I a student, a sponge soaking in the lessons. Some hard. All good. Life teaches well along the way. In the messy living.

The old, big, gas-guzzling, loud and sometimes hot classroom is a good teacher too.

When God calls us into ministry He is good to change us. And challenge us.And He is wise to teach those he taps . To instruct those whom he woos to come along for the ride. Moving us from Point A to Point B, never leaving us where we were found by Him. Transforming lives with Grace. Mercy moving us along. Increments of Truth and more of Him, measurements of movement.

And He is a gentle teacher. Loving His children and wisely never leaving His rag tag band, His co-laborers, His students of Grace unchanged. He lovingly shapes. He gingerly molds. We show up in a place carrying the now of what we know on our backs like a Patagonian hiker ready for a trek. He adds whats important, filling the pack with more of Him.  The weight of the important strengthens the sojourner’s back. Shoulders stronger, legs less wobbly, back braced for carrying the significant.

We show up ill-prepared. He refines the red clay of the soul on the spinning potter’s wheel.

And He uses His people in a beautiful way. There is no circumstance on the journey that He has not known. There are no combinations of facts or missing pieces which leave Him caught off guard or suprised.

So when I say yes and I show up He tilts the lense and sharpens the perspective. Divine fingers wipe the fog, remove the smudge on the window to the world. And over the shoulder on the looking back, He speaks. In the ear of the rewinding mind, He teachess.

And He takes one little, two little , three little travellers and more and binds them together over the bumps, through the wrong turns, past the monuments, through the dark tunnels, past the missed stops, and onward  on the road of learning.

The one about Him. And the one about us. And the one about the others along the way. The ones with the hurt and the pain. The ones with no one to listen and no one to care.

The weary woman on the way home, eyes blurred from hours in the office. The mom with a whispering heart, bruised by circumstances. The tender recovering soul who in her young life as a mother to two is now a widow and hurting. But aren’t we all.  And who doesn’t.

The eager child with the can of spray paint, eager to find a place to write and express. His name,his identity on the black asphalt, on the sides of the yellow walls. He teaches to listen and look for signs. They have a voice. They want to speak. They want to shout.

They all have a story to tell.

And we would do well to listen.

And we would be more like Him if we did.

{Counting gifts today with Ann over at A Holy Experience dot com. And linking up here at the Extraordinary Ordinary and here with Michelle and also with these two ladies here and here}

* the gift, possibly a first and a last, but hoping not, a mission trip with my daughter

*watching her serve, use her gifts and leave childish ways behind….way behind

*watching my daughter grow more and more into the woman God has purposed her to be

*meeting a freight container full of new friends this week, well I am prone to hyperbole

*seeing new places, exploring new corners, falling in love with the art of discovery all over again.

*regaining my sense of adventure and inquiry

* Asking and accepting the privilege to pray for two women, God grant me faithfulness to pray faithfully and diligently for their circumstances

*Eight new puppies in my world

*Watching my son care for the furry babies and seeing how nurturing He truly is

*getting  a text from my son at camp that he is homesick.  An unexplainable gift.

*counting down the days until we trek up to our beloved mountain home, where memory lives, and story waits to tell us more of the past, the present, and lend hope to the future

* new inspiration from new twitter folks, a welcome surprise. Reading tweet after tweet of words pointing toward the Father


Five Things A Recent Glamping Trip Taught Me About Life

On a recent Glamping trip with The Patient One, the kiddos,  and close friends, I learned a lot about life, the gospel, and of course some truths about Glamping.

1. Glamping requires a return to simplicity.

Our glamping vehicle was lovingly named the tinaminium (spell check does not recognize this as a word). It was a rented camper that provided many creature comforts (therefore the loose refence to the “minium” in the term of endearment, tinaminium. Condo’s bring some form of luxury to mind. I digress. What’s new.

Life lived under the brilliant stars and the ebony black sky is exhilarating. The air feels cleaner, the stars are brighter, and many of life’s accoutrements are left at home. This is by design, in order to do life differently, and due to a lack of space. They are somehow not missed at all. (well accept for the long hot showers and the strong internet signal). We packed high thread count sheets and white linen table cloths and our ipads. That’s why its called Glamping sillies.

2. It is important to love your neighbor as yourself, while at your glampsite. (spell check doesn’t know this word either.)

This means don’t run your generator when others are sleeping because it is loud and bothersome. It is important to be a good neighbor because you are parked very close to your neighbor, therefore any of the fruits of the spirit which you didn’t leave at home should be used in dealing with  communicating with others.

For example, if your neighbor’s campsite is in close proximity to the door of your home-on-wheels and the  smoke is wafting into your tiniminium, causing you to be engulfed
in smoke   slightly inconvenienced, its best to be a good neighbor by moving your vehicle out of the smoke’s way.  It is much simpler and kinder than asking them to a. move their camp fire b. extinguish their campfire c. use different firewood that doesn’t smoke up the entire neighborhood.

3.Glampsites are a breeding ground for good story-telling and honing your listening skills.

Writers love stories, and I love writing, therefore, I love stories.  I love listening to them, digesting them, processing them, and writing them.  That must be why I love glamping so much.  Because they are a breeding ground for story. Wait that may have been a leap, or I may have loosely connected the dots there on point 3.

Time stood still, as Time does when you are engrossed in a good story, so I don’t know how long I listened to a new “friend”, my glampsite neighbor tell me an amazing story of his life.  He is a writer and I am a writer so naturally we talked for a very long time.  And I will be writing more of his story here on these pages after I have asked his permission to re-tell.  It is his story not mine, so I’d like to request permission before pressing publish here on the blog.

What I can tell you, is it was rich and deep and heartbreaking.  I can tell you that his story is filled with redemption, hope, and C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity.” I can tell you that the strength and perserverance that it took to live through his pain, heal from his pain, and ultimately choose to share his story, well they inspire. And they are a beautiful story of forgiveness, healing, and love.

(I did not expect this story to come sit in my lap and pierce my heart while Glamping. Did I mention that I was surprised often while on this Glamping trip.)

And I can tell you if I hadn’t gone Glamping, I wouldn’t have met my new “friend”.  He called out to me and asked me to sit and talk to him while he breaded shrimp for the fryer.  He said  “I am a little OCD about this process.”  That is why we had an inordinate amount of time together, talking and listening over three pounds of shrimp being breaded. It was time very well-spent.

I also sat and chatted with a neighbor from home and learned that she had lost both of her parents this past year.  I have known her for 17 years, we live in the same small town, we have children the same age and I didn’t know that her mother and father had both died this year.

Her story caused me to stare into her eyes and listen with all I have.  There is more to her story than I can share until I ask, but losing parents in one condensed time frame has to be deeply painful.  She and I have made plans to go paddle boarding together.  I have another “new” friend because of glamping.

4. Glamping creates the need to be dependent on one another for “survival.”

We dragged a lot of stuff with us, but we still didn’t prepare well enough.  Our friends, not the ones in the glamper with us but the ones in a tent down the way, prepared better than we did in the food (protein) department.  Because they are kind, generous, and really good cooks, gifted really in the culinary arts, we ate like Kings and Queens.  We “lived” off of their grill and their kindness.  Well, I can’t speak for anyone else.  I did. And food tastes better when its prepared on a new $700 grill which is transported out to a glampsite for the weekend.  And food tastes better when it is eaten out-of- doors in the cool fresh air. In fact, a lot of things are better out-of-doors on a plantation in the middle of nowhere.  We know it was nowhere because the GPS couldn’t find it.

5. Friendship is better in close quarters (and friendships grow deep roots in the dark)

When Glamping, your generator must be turned on in order to have light. Well sometimes its just best to preserve your power and sit in the dark. Especially when it is late at night, and music from the music festival is serenading you on a Saturday night, on a quail hunting plantation, on a cool May night, in your tinaminium with a really close friend. Actually, your super-glue friend, your accountability partner and your sister-in-Christ. The dark can be good for sharing life, your heart, and having good momma time.

The dark of night can breed intimacy in friendship. And living in very close quarters could test the best of friendships. But this one survived and may have been made stronger. Many of our friends have walk in closets bigger than this space the four of us shared for a weekend.

Because we like to laugh, we imagined that Jesus could have written a parable teaching us how to treat others in a glamping campsite. We studied the parables in our Bible Study this fall, so they were still front and center in our frontal lobe parts. We had a stranger come to our door during that dark of night, generator off, talking heart to heart time. He scared us. We think we missed an opportunity to be kinder and gentler to him than we were. Did I mentioned he scared us? He had the wrong door, its like the wrong number when you call someone. He was looking for friends. They were staying in the tinaminium next door. Did I mention he scared us.( Well startled would be more accurate.) We pointed him in the right direction. But we didn’t offer him a meal or a kind word. And we weren’t particularly good neighbors. We felt like those in the parable of the Good Samaraitan who passed by the guy laying in the ditch. You know, the ones who didn’t help. Well we pointed him in the right direction. He just had the wrong camper.

Maybe we’ll get a second chance to “do unto others” on our next Glamping trip. Maybe we’ll get a do-over in the do-unto others department. We can only hope.

And there will be another. Even though the showers are short and sweet, and the creature comforts are few and far between, even with a loud generator.

Who doesn’t love the chance to hear stories under the blue sky days out in the middle of a field. And to live more simply.

There is much to learn out under the stars, and clouds, huddled by your camper with friends and family.

I wish I hadn’t stopped with five things I learned, though you may be.

wishing His grace….