Friday, July 1, 2016

Poetry Friday: Lifting Voices

It's poetry Friday!  Today's poem was literally found.  During our last day with the Columbus Area Writing Project we were asked to take a piece of writing from our time together and use it to find a poem.  We were asked to carve it down to its most essential words.  I found this poem hiding in a blog post I wrote titled:  Why Digital Writing.   

Lifting Voices 

childhood reports,
paper books
made by tiny fingers,
filled with wondrous words,
handwritten poems.

tucked safely away,
in closets and drawers.

stories should reach;
to communities.
writing for something -
for someone.

finding space.
reaching out.
letting words spill.
writing lifts
silenced voices.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2016

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by The Opposite of Indifference where Tabatha Yeatts hosts today's parade of wondrous words.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Slice of Life: On Being Hip

"We certainly bring the average age up in this room," I comment to my friend, Julie, chuckling as we enter the classroom.  It's the first day of our summer teacher leadership class at OSU.  We thought it might be fun to take a few classes.  We're kind of crazy like that.  Everyone in this class appears young and quite driven.  It's going to keep me on my toes I think as I assess the situation and look for a place to sit down.

She laughs as we find seats in the crowded room.  I put down my bags which have grown quite heavy with my computer, books, and other items needed for a full day on campus.  Opening my computer I realize I cannot get into the campus secure Wifi or my OSU account.  "What was that password?" I wonder aloud as I check my phone to see if I was smart enough to put it in my notes.  It's not there.  I try password after password with no success.

I lean over to see how Julie is doing getting logged in while I find the site on my phone where the password is saved.  "I can't get into the site on my computer," I tell Julie wishing I would have figured this out before class began.  The professor is getting organized in the front of the room so I'm running out of time.

Bianca leans over to me.  She has to be about the age of my son.  She is already organized to start class.  Her computer tabs open to the course web page and the digital space she will use to take notes.  She looks pretty together, and I'm guessing she has already done all of the reading for next week's class.  "Do you have a Gmail account?" she inquires, but her eyes tell me she is doubting that I do.

"I do," I affirm feeling a bit victorious.  I'm pretty sure she expected an AOL account from me.

Her gentle look affirms I am likely the age of her mother.  "I can send the document we need today to you," she kindly offers with soft eyes that tell me she isn't sure I have ever touched a computer before.

I don't have the heart to tell her the documents are on my phone.  It's always good to make a few new friends in a class.  Since I will be able to better view them from my computer I return her smile,  "That would be great.  Thank you so much."

Class continues without a hitch.  I find my way to the site on my phone and can see the syllabus and other items the professor uses in her discussion.  Keeping notes on Evernote, I listen to the lecture looking up sites as our professor mentions names and professional books to consider.

Later that evening, I open up my computer to solve the password problem.  A little time and patience will surely allow me to get on the campus site using my computer.  As I open my email, I have to chuckle.  Bianca has shared all of the modules from the site with me.  I'm sure she wondered if I had ever been on a computer before that day.

That evening, I solved my password problem and got into our course site.  This teacher leadership class will surely be an adventure in learning.  As I sat in the class, I couldn't help but feel a bit old.  I remember the first time I thought the McDonald's employee seemed a bit young.  Then it was bank employees.  In the blink of an eye, it seemed State Highway Patrolmen were younger than I was.  (That was painful.)  When NFL coaches, started to look young I really wrestled with the meaning of life.  I suppose it was that feeling that played into my perception of Bianca's charitable assistance.  More and more I brush up against moments that remind me of my age.  I've decided instead of thinking about how old I am in these situations, I'll just consider myself hip hanging out with such interesting young people.

It's Tuesday.  Today I'm joining the Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by today's link up to join the conversation or find some great reading.

Friday, June 24, 2016

They Carried Your Stories Away

They carried your stories
away today
damaged and broken:
the violin that played the music,
of your childhood
the books that rested in your hands,
the Old Maid we slid around the table,
the piece we made 
standing side by side in your workshop
as I listened to your words
weave your lessons into my life.

I held each in my hand
as we said goodbye
trying to reach back in time for the story.
Years have passed.
Your voice fading,
the memories now black and white:
your music playing in the back room
as Grandma and I washed dishes,
the day's crossword puzzle 
in your tired hands,
all distant.

They carried your stories
away today:
the books that shaped your life,
the projector that helped me to see
the world through your eyes.
These pieces 
of your history
that have guided my journey.
How will I remember 
without holding them
in my hand?

© Cathy L. Mere, 2016

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by Random Noodling where Diane Mayr hosts today's parade of wondrous words.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Day 4 National Poetry Month: My World

My World 

Racing out the door
I bark
again and again
trying to sound bigger
than I am.

My eyes do not see
like they once did.
My ears no longer
hear the danger
that surrounds me.

Moving around
my favorite spaces
to circle the tree,
to smell grass,
I bark louder.

My world is smaller now
than it once was.
I no longer see
the deer taunting me,
the rabbits
wanting to play.

I no longer hear
the birds in the trees
or my family
calling me
to come back in.

So I will bark
long and loud,
to protect
the space that remains
in my world.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2016

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Day 3 National Poetry Month 2016: Country Living

Country Living
When I moved
to this country home
I knew I did
just the right thing.

Yes, I miss the power lines,
the ability to skitter
from tree to tree
along city streets.

Yes, I miss my cousins
who nested in the trees
near my old home
and would stop by to visit.

But it was noisy there
in the city,
and the cars
were too frequent.  

When I arrived 
at my country home
I knew this would be
the place I'd live forever.

Yes, I have to watch for the dog 
that races out of the house
from time to time
wanting to play chase.

Yes, I have to watch for the coyote
who saunters through the fields
every now and then
looking for his next meal.  

But, there are no squirrels
that live nearby,
when oak drops her acorns
they are all mine.

Cars are rarely seen 
near my new home,
and the quiet is something
I have learned to love.

Today I found the best treasure:
stuffing for my new nest.
It's fluffy white
like the clouds in the sky.

When I moved
to this country home
I knew I did
just the right thing.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2016

The Idea
Ha!  Today's poem came walking up to my patio - literally.  

We moved into our country home over twenty years ago.  One of the first things we noticed was that we didn't have any squirrels.  It was strange.  We had trees.  We had food, but we didn't have squirrels.  We had moved to our country home from the city where squirrels were abundant.  They'd race from tree to tree, across power lines, and into the roads a drop of a nut.  

Last year we noticed our first squirrel.  It was a red tailed squirrel who seemed to own our back acreage.  This spring we've noticed a gray squirrel.  Hmmm.  Yesterday morning as I wrote my poem I looked out on the patio to see the gray squirrel grabbing the stuffing from one of our patio chair pillows.  I had been blaming the birds, but it was the thief of a squirrel who was doing it.  

It's National Poetry Month!  I will be joining others across the blogosphere to attempt to write a poem every day during the month of April.  You'll find other great poetry stops in my sidebar.  

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Day 2 National Poetry Month: The Poet

The Poet

I wonder where she finds the words
that flow from her pen
into her leather bound notebook
where pages once blank
bounce with lilting lines.

She wanders the world
with eyes wide open
searching for something
the rest of us
do not yet see.

Though poems try to escape her
she captures them,
piece by piece,
in tiny details,
in words sculpted with care.

Like the photographer
she sees with different eyes,
holds the image still,
for others to see,
just as she sees it.

Like the musician
she finds a rhythm,
speaks the truth,
in ways
we do not understand.

Like the artist
she captures color,
creates mood;
helping others to know
the beauty overlooked.

I want to walk beside her
as she spends her day
pursuing her poem,
words wandering through her world,
arranging and rearranging themselves.

It must be some kind of magic
as she waves her wand pen,
turning the ordinary
into something
never seen before.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2016

The Idea
Today's poem was inspired by a collision between a stop by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's blog and a book I am reading by Mary Oliver.  If you haven't stopped by Amy's blog to see her wanderings and wonderings for April you should go there now.  In Amy's recent post she was shared:

"I am looking to surprise myself with new inspiration daily.  This year, such inspiration will show up in my inbox each morning.  I will print it and carry each Wonderopolis Wonder around all day...and in the afternoon or evening, I will write and post the poem for the next day."  -Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
As I read her lines, I thought about the power of what she was saying.  It seems often a poem isn't just right there waiting to be written, but if we take an idea and wrestle with the words as we wander through the day the words eventually find their way to paper.  I had to smile at the image of Amy and poets around the world doing this very thing.

In A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver reminds us,
"A poem must have a necessary quality of detail - enough to sustain the reader's passage into the imagined world of the poem"  Mary Oliver, p. 93.  
It was the collision of this quote and the way Amy talked about finding her poem across her day that made me wonder about poets.  How do they find the magic in their words?   How do we find the "necessary quality of detail" in our poems?

Thinking About
I've been thinking about the chapters in Oliver's book, The Poetry Handbook, titled "Sound," "More Devices of Sound," and "The Line."  To oversimplify Oliver's advice, when writing poetry (so I'm thinking especially free verse and narrative poetry) we have think about the way words work together.  How do they propel readers forward and slow them down?  How do we make lines dance and create rhythm in our poem?  Consonants, vowels, syllables, and sounds do change the way a poem is read by others.  I've been trying to think about considering her advice to help readers move with ease across parts of the poem, and slow down in other parts of the poem.

It's National Poetry Month!  I will be joining others across the blogosphere to attempt to write a poem every day during the month of April.  You'll find other great poetry stops in my sidebar.