29 November 2011

Wake The Sleeping Giant

This is a poem written by my friend, Ruth, on her marvelous blog Synch-ro-ni-zing, posted on November 24 and entitled: What To Do On Thanksgiving. If you like great poetry, check out hers.

the torch
down from the wall
and bravely wake
the sleeping giant
of your soul

dormant magnificence
out of her crouching
fraction of light

hips arms and legs
into stomp
and thunder
on the dance floor of
your particular praise!

This great poem and call to action mobilized me mightily, got me meditating and writing for hours. To write in answer seemed to be a way to find my vision at this time, my dreams for the future. Ruth's poem contains two important questions:

1. Who is this sleeping giant of my soul? 
2. What do I thunder in particular praise of? 

When I was 19 years old, on a week long retreat, I had a vivid vision (not the seeing kind of vision) while praying. I tried to put it in words but it left me speechless. It was a sweeping, certain kind of  knowing that we are all one. Humans in our totality and diversity, animals as fellow creatures, protectors, and guides, all things living - trees, plants and flowers, all things in nature - mountains, land, sea and sky. All. One. And that this is the divine, the sacred, the whole, the holy. The priest on that retreat said it was heresy when I told him, but I've held that vision in my heart as a gift given to me.
It was the only vision of my life but it was enough, it's the ground of my being.

I thunder in praise of this vision

Other things I thunder in praise of:

- Knowing what makes me come alive and doing it. 

- Mining the wisdom of elders, of grandmothers, in association with other grandmothers who bring their voices to the issues of the day, who say what they see, who are the solution we're looking for.

- Working to increase real respect for women and children, to make the world better, healthier and happier for our grandchildren. Love is the way.

- The beauty of art and being near artists who present what is beautiful and true.

Who is my sleeping giant? She likes:

- To move, to hike, to run, and to live in a beautiful place.

- To read and have some people with whom to discuss what I read.

- To write and be in community with other writers, including poets, who like to share their work.

- To raise plants, care for them, propagate them and learn more about local ones.

- To eat local food raised organically and sustainably while living lightly on the land.

- To walk a spiritual path in fellowship with other seekers and to find ways to be of service.

- To gather the young women of my family yearly to foster deepening bonds, family healing and remain a part of the lives of these amazing Dear Ones.

- To love John in new ways and enjoy the company of others in long-term committed relationships who share and encourage one another.

- To live in a community of people who are awake, aware, alive. A community characterized by respect, kindness, attention and courage, who share resources in some way, and where individual strengths are enhanced. A diverse community, multi-racial, multi-cultural, men and women, old and young (lots of kids), gay and straight. A creative community.

- To have more contact with Kelly, Carl and the grands. To live in community with them. To have their strengths, skills and perspectives in my community. To help home school the grands.

Some of what emerged surprised me (like the last two), some is familiar but comes together in a new way. I'll sit with it and let it percolate some more. I've summarized here but there are pages of writing. My friend, Nancy, over at Life in the Second Half who agrees the revolution is love, has been asking for awhile about drawing together a community and I was intrigued but didn't feel the tug toward it until now. I have no idea how this will manifest but the energy is flowing.
What if we all woke our sleeping giant and stirred our dormant magnificence?                                                        

27 November 2011

TEDxSF - Gratitude

For this Thanksgiving weekend, I offer this gorgeous video containing so much that I'm grateful for and some amazing time lapse photography for your viewing pleasure. Take 10 minutes and enjoy.
I'm ever so grateful for this blog world I've discovered and for each of you. Grazie mille.

23 November 2011

The Kiss

We dressed for our day, the air
between us thick with thrown words,
they loomed, suspended from then to now with no
bridge back. He turned,
just that. Longing jolted through me

for contact, even clothed contact,
us coiled, whorled, my head wreathed in his hands,
touched lips tried upside down like us,
a kiss to map a new way back, to rebuild what was lost
one kiss at a time.

I love that these lovers, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, were long- term marrieds.
This is in response to the visual prompt at Magpie Tales #92
And for dVerse Poets Pub, open link night #19

21 November 2011

Naples, Italy: The Birthplace of Pizza

Do you like your pizza thin and crispy, like in Rome, or soft and pliable, like in Naples? I went to Naples yesterday for the first time (the streets looked just like this except more crowded for Christmas) and tried the Naples version of pizza. As an Italian man at my table said: "This is the best pizza I've ever eaten." He said this with a look on his face resembling bliss.

How do they get the pizza  soft and pliable? They make the dough the day before and let it rise for 10- 15 hours. Then, they cook it in wood burning ovens at 485 degrees C (905 degrees F) for 60- 90 seconds. The crust is then soft and light and tastes like a dream. It looks like this (this is actually mine).

Although some pizzerias will serve other types of pizza, the "authentic" pizzas are considered to be pizza marinara, made with tomatoes, oregano, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil, and pizza margherita, (named for a Queen and my favorite), made to look like the flag of Italy with basil leaves for green, mozzarella for white and tomatoes for red. Mine has buffalo milk mozzarella (popular in this area) as a topping in the middle. It was extraordinary.

The first pizzeria in Naples, Antica Pizza Port'alba, was founded in 1738, although the first appearance of pizza was in a Latin text from the Italian town of Gaeta in 997AD. Most food historians point to Naples as the area of origin, and to Napoletana, the pizza of Naples, as the archetype of this type of pizza. 

This pizza was served in this restaurant. People wait outside in long lines until the tables empty and they can experience pizza alla Naples. It's worth the wait.

What food are you savoring today? 

18 November 2011

Seals as Kin

Celts call seals kin as they drape on dark rock,
kinship defined in fey legend, night talk,
same salt core and more, like necks thick,
heat kept by seal but man as brick.
As waves encroach on black rock seals bark back,
give voice to loss and more, skid to sea's brack.

Seals shift shape, shed skin and become human,
stay hidden from our view, but moon's lumen
shows selkie to those who might seek
and steal skin, make her ever weak.
Kinship not enough, own as mate our kin.
Shed tears for those who block another's din

(Based on the Irish/ Scottish legend of the selkie.)

Written in response to dVerse Poets pub prompt by Beth Winter for a staccato form poem with particular rules listed here. (but I missed the time deadline, aargh!)

17 November 2011

Brave Endeavors

My friend, Ruth, over at Synch-ro-ni-zing wrote a thought provoking post about living in the face of death, despair and fear. In her wise way she turned to poetry, bits of poems, she called a "found poem" to provide an important juxtaposition.
After reading it, the following quotes that I've collected because they spoke to me came together in a whole new way. They illuminate our work as writers and offer encouragement for this brave endeavor.

I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you might nudge the world a little or make a poem that children will speak for you when you are dead. 
- Tom Stoppard

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.
~Frederick Douglass

So don't be frightened, dear friend, if a sadness confronts you larger than any you have ever known, casting its shadow over all you do. You must think that something is happening within you, and remember that life has not forgotten you; it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall. Why would you want to exclude from your life any uneasiness, any pain, any depression, since you don't know what work they are accomplishing within you? 

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these-to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

15 November 2011

January Child (The Full Version)

It's Open Link Night - week 18 at dVerse- Poets Pub, devoted to the encouragement of poetry and community among poets. Check it out and tell your friends.

January Child

I came along in the dead of winter
born in my own time three weeks late.
Father was at work.
Mother begged a ride from a neighbor
to go and do her woman's work alone.
She napped me on the porch
to be toughened by the snows
and gales of winter,
to cut my teeth on New England nor'easters
and fight the undeclared war against girls.
Middle child, only girl, small for my age.

Both brothers slept the porch in spring
took for granted the abundance
of our neighborhood, the visitors and friends,
the elms and hyacinths, maples and forsythias,
spring greens, yellows and new hues,
the migratory flocks parading back to northern homes.
Both boys read books, played quiet games
grew fat on father's favor.

I grew to a storm-wintered warrior child
sight practiced on bare lilac thicket,
schooled by wind in how the world sounds,
cries accompanied by blackbirds and jays,
layered against the elements.
Perhaps my skirmishes were attempts
to win that unwinable war
but I fought with the fury of calling,
battered brothers' enemies,
marshaled anger from hidden fronts
as I gave birth to myself.

Mary H. Warren

(I published a 100 word version of this poem on 9/30/11. This is the full poem that needed to be written.)

13 November 2011

A Dream in Which I Run Over Two Toddlers

This is offered in response to dVerse- Poets Pub prompt to use idioms and spread the poetry love
and Magpie Tales haunting visual prompt as seen here.

Last night in the graveyard shift of my dreams
I stood looking at a high hill that I needed to climb.
My niece ran over to show me a train track to take up
and a flat, open tram to sit on for the trek to the top. No directions
were given me for how to work this tram but
I was drawn up as if by an invisible cable.

I climbed slowly and then plateaued for a bit,
climbed again and again plateaued. On the third plateau
a young boy appeared beside the track in front of me. He held a rope
attached to a smaller, open trolley on which sat two toddlers.
The boy laughed as he pulled them along in the same direction I was headed
then turned and raced the toddlers' trolley toward my tram until I ran over them.
Traces of blood tipped the front of the tram.

My tram continued to the top as waves
of disbelief, horror, guilt, hope that no one saw, fear
about leaving the scene of the accident and determination to make a police report on the accident
washed over me. Through it all careened the question
of how seriously the toddlers were hurt. I saw my daughter at the hilltop,
told her of the accident. She had heard it on the news,
but never said if the two little ones lived or died.

I wandered and worried since it was longer and longer
from the time of the accident, stymied
by how to find the police and consumed
by concern over the toddlers' condition.
I felt like a woman in a foggy field surrounded by chairs
whose arrangement makes no sense as I looked around for what to do next,
as if a dream is our sixth sense but defies discernment.

12 November 2011

Then Somebody Bends Unexpectedly

Remember the scene in Beauty and The Beast where Angela Lansbury in a voice over sings:

Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Just a little change
Small to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared
Beauty and the Beast

Ever just the same
Ever a surprise
Ever as before
Ever just as sure
As the sun will rise

Tale as old as time
Tune as old as song
Bittersweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong
Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the Beast

I like this song because it rings true to my experience. It sings of the importance of one of the couple making that tiny first move, shifting the field, making a change. Until somebody bends, softens a bit, nothing changes. 

When I can be the one to make that small change that changes everything, I'm awed by the difference it makes, by how my Honey lets me save face, by the closeness that results. Moments before, I'm thinking "I'm right, he's wrong and this time he'll eat shit, choke and die before I back down." But, somewhere in the back of my mind, I remember what happened the last time one of us shifted and how good it was.

Sometimes it's me who softens (even when I hate to), sometimes it's my Honey. And every time, for 38 years, it changes the dynamic to the point that we can hear each other a little more, understand each other a little better and move towards re-establishing closeness. Deepened.

What's true in the individual level is also true on the group level- political factions, racial tensions, religious differences, family discord- people maintaining rigid positions maintain the status quo or bring about worse, including destruction of one another. 

Those that can soften their heart can start the chain reaction of change. Can make the world a better place. Can bring about healing. Can't they? What do you think?

10 November 2011


This is offered in response to the visual prompt from Magpie Tails that can be seen here.

He wrote it on his tombstone.
MOORE. The story of his life.
He dressed it up fancy, the extra "o" and all caps. But it was always about wanting
more, more than anyone else had, more than he needed,
more than he could ever use, more than anyone wanted to give him once they knew him.
MOORE. He thought he was entitled to it,
to more, because of who he was.

He promised more, too,
in the belief that everyone wanted more,
lured them into his sticky web with visions of
more. But that kind of more can only happen
by seeing the real need for more. That more he never saw,
another's need. Never knew that obsession with his own
more blinded him to others' need, missed altogether the difference between
more and need.

He wanted it on his tombstone. MOORE.
Thought of it as his clever tongue-in-cheek epitaph to what was more important than his name.
He who dies with the most more wins. Never
caught the irony. It was on his

07 November 2011

London With a Friend

I've been caught up in the whirlwind of traveling and visiting in London (and Windsor) for the first time. And all of that with a long-time friend.  What a grand time we've had. Even though I've lived in Italy for 2 1/2 years and traveled a good deal around Europe, somehow I've not been to London up to now. That's changed as of this last week. The chance to travel here with my husband and meet up with my dear friend, Mary, was too good to pass up.

It started in Windsor in a hotel directly across the street from Windsor Castle. We looked at it from our room. So day one I toured this magnificent place.

The weather was clear and fine and gave me the opportunity to get some great photos of Windsor Castle, which serves as the weekend home to the Queen or her family members, and houses priceless treasures.

The grounds are lush and beautifully kept but my favorite display (no photos allowed inside) was Queen Mary's Doll House. To see all the castle rooms reproduced in such miniature but accurate detail was delightful. I enjoy doll houses anyway so I spent a long time there just amazed at the workmanship.

London was next on my itinerary and we stayed in a hotel by Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace, past home of Princess Margaret and Princess Diana and future home of her son, Prince William and his new bride, Kate Middleton.

The huge park and gardens were lovely and contained this magnificent tree that I named the tree of life.

Kensington Palace is in the process of a transformation but had an exibit in the meanwhile entitled "Enchanted Palace" consisting of a clever hunt through the shadowy world of the enchanted palace for the names of the seven princesses who have lived at the palace. It included an interactive visitor experience, fanciful pieces of information and displays for each of the princesses, a booklet to write their names, guides galore to give more details about their lives and a prize at the end if you got them all right. Made for a fun afternoon followed by an elegant high tea at the Orangery.

The excitement of a great city of London at night with Christmas coming was everywhere evident. I got some Christmas shopping for the grands done and loved every minute. I can't wait to see their faces when they open their special treats.

Of course, I did some old fashioned sight seeing. How could I not after hearing about and seeing in pictures these iconographic images. I'll just include a couple of night images that I thought came out well.

London theaters had so many choices for shows but not all were both available and affordable. One that was both, was the award winning "Jersey Boys". You have to see this show if you were an adolescent in the 60's. You'll sing along to every song- I sure did. Fabulous songs and a great true-life story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons makes for a incredible musical.

The National Gallery had a photography exhibit on modern actresses and influential women that was stunning but certainly one of the most endearing aspects of this trip was the time with my friend since 1989, Mary. We had time to talk and be together, time to catch up and tell our current stories, time to share and just enjoy each other again. She's a gem and reminded me of the song we sang in Girl Scouts: "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold". You're pure gold, Mary. I'm so fortunate to call you friend.