On the cusp …

Today was first contact. First emails exchanged with the cohort of women I’ll be joining in Alaska in 12 days. And it has me feeling giddy and smiley and full and deliciously excited.

And these women, this group of strangers, has already extended their kindness, made a change in whatever plans they’d made for this residency … for me. From the moment I knew I’d be heading to Alaska, I’ve been looking at day tours, looking for one that would answer my craving for nature and wildlife and (with luck) excellent photos. But then I discovered a) that most of the tour outfits don’t start up until well after the time of my residency and b) the one that runs year-round doesn’t book solo tours and doesn’t have any tours scheduled that I could tag along on. Their minimum number for a tour is four people.

So I wrote my cohort and asked if they’d be willing to give up a chunk of a residency day to help make my dream become a real thing … and they stepped right up and said yes!

I am feeling lucky tonight, feeling seen and held. We don’t know each other … but we know each other, right? We know that each of us is a woman writer who’s been granted this time to embrace ourselves and breathe deeply and expand out to our farthest edges. And to support one another in that embracing, breathing, and expanding. And if part of that for me is getting to go on that wildlife tour, and I need their help to make it happen … well, there they are, saying yes. Saying yes for me.

Grateful.

And this little bubble of bonhomie is extending to ghazals tonight. I won’t pretend I’ve suddenly fallen in love with my poems or this form, but this one works for tonight, and I’m grateful for that, too.

Greater than Fear

We run toward the center, we're diving in deep.
Our minds all open and clear, diving in deep.

We haven't yet met but still, drawn to each other -- 
common desire wraps our sphere, diving in deep.

Each one carrying pieces that need making whole,
coming with all we hold dear, diving in deep.

We have faith in the chance that we'll find what we need.
Faith that rises, greater than fear. Diving in deep.

And I, Stacie, make my lists and check them thrice.
I'm arriving, ready, sincere -- diving in deep.

National Poetry Month 2022: the Ghazal

As I’ve done for more than ten years (what?!), I’ve chosen a poetic form, and I’m going to try to write a poem in that form every day for the month of April … and I’m saying that boldly, knowing that I’ve already failed. I couldn’t find my way through to a poem on Day One, but I’m determined to continue.

The “Ghazal” is the form I’ve chosen for this year. Here is the structure and a little backstory (thank you Poetry Foundation):

“Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love, medieval Persian poets embraced the ghazal, eventually making it their own. Consisting of syntactically and grammatically complete couplets, the form also has an intricate rhyme scheme. Each couplet ends on the same word or phrase (the radif), and is preceded by the couplet’s rhyming word (the qafia, which appears twice in the first couplet). The last couplet includes a proper name, often of the poet’s. In the Persian tradition, each couplet was of the same meter and length, and the subject matter included both erotic longing and religious belief or mysticism.”

Should be interesting!

Ephemera

By this time in the month, I’m usually coming to terms with the form I’ve been writing, coming to a place where I can find my way into a poem even if I don’t produce a poem I particularly love. I’m still not there with the ghazal, however. Nearly every day has felt like the first day all over again. My little system is still working, so it takes less time for me to get to the start of the poem. Getting through to the end remains a scratchy struggle, however. Some years, the form and I just don’t click. So it goes.

Again, Naturally

Forgot again to start the clock leaving life on hold.
Days, months, years pass without perceiving life on hold.

Watching the steady fall of rain past the window.
What's the purpose, what are we achieving? Life on hold.

I've run toward and away from so many choices,
left staring at emptiness all unbelieving. Life on hold.

You've pulled back your hand even as I've reached out mine,
left me over-balanced and weaving, life on hold.

So I, Stacie, always watching from a distance
stories unspool as I stand grieving. Life on hold.

National Poetry Month 2022: the Ghazal

As I’ve done for more than ten years (what?!), I’ve chosen a poetic form, and I’m going to try to write a poem in that form every day for the month of April … and I’m saying that boldly, knowing that I’ve already failed. I couldn’t find my way through to a poem on Day One, but I’m determined to continue.

The “Ghazal” is the form I’ve chosen for this year. Here is the structure and a little backstory (thank you Poetry Foundation):

“Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love, medieval Persian poets embraced the ghazal, eventually making it their own. Consisting of syntactically and grammatically complete couplets, the form also has an intricate rhyme scheme. Each couplet ends on the same word or phrase (the radif), and is preceded by the couplet’s rhyming word (the qafia, which appears twice in the first couplet). The last couplet includes a proper name, often of the poet’s. In the Persian tradition, each couplet was of the same meter and length, and the subject matter included both erotic longing and religious belief or mysticism.”

Should be interesting!

Two-Step … In Double Time

Or some such. I missed all my writing deadlines yesterday. I was mentally exhausted and all I could do all evening was fall asleep over my notebook, then fall asleep over my computer and finally just fall asleep. I didn’t even register until this morning that I hadn’t actually finished the poem I was working on, that I hadn’t posted anything. Clearly, my body needed sleep more than I needed to play at being a poet. I can accept that.

Really, I can … but I also didn’t want to be two poems behind for the month. I still haven’t made up the poem I didn’t write on day one! So tonight I have two poems. Which means I’ve proved to myself that I actually can write two in one day, so I should be able to fully catch up before the end of the month … or, it means that I’ve exhausted my two-poems-in-a-day capability and this will be a 29/30 month. We’ll all just have to wait and see!

All the Difference

Never imagined a future, not a real one.
How do you dream hard enough to reveal one?

Forever choosing the wrong fork in the road –
never the wise path but the safe, even-keel one.

Time and again the heart chooses unwisely,
each lover presented himself the ideal one.

Each than another proved so much less than desired –
wounds and deceipts and a heart cold as a steel one. 

And I, Stacie, tire of being the genteel one.
Bare both teeth and claws when I ought to conceal one.

I won’t go so far as to say I’m crazy about that poem, but I have amused myself by using “genteel” and by using it as a descriptor for myself. And ghazal the second:

Saturated

Even on the calmest day, I'm caught in the storm .
Chaos swirling all the time, caught in the storm.

Try meditation, some soulful deep breathing
Always a hill too high to climb – caught in the storm.

Every moment is fraught, tensions running high.
Not a single day of downtime. Caught in the storm.

But these are lies – sort of lies – it’s all my own making.
Over-scheduling’s the crime, caught in the storm.

I, crazed spinner, dream a day of silent stillness 
from dawn ‘til the last hour’s chime                (sigh)        caught in the storm

National Poetry Month 2022: the Ghazal

As I’ve done for more than ten years (what?!), I’ve chosen a poetic form, and I’m going to try to write a poem in that form every day for the month of April … and I’m saying that boldly, knowing that I’ve already failed. I couldn’t find my way through to a poem on Day One, but I’m determined to continue.

The “Ghazal” is the form I’ve chosen for this year. Here is the structure and a little backstory (thank you Poetry Foundation):

“Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love, medieval Persian poets embraced the ghazal, eventually making it their own. Consisting of syntactically and grammatically complete couplets, the form also has an intricate rhyme scheme. Each couplet ends on the same word or phrase (the radif), and is preceded by the couplet’s rhyming word (the qafia, which appears twice in the first couplet). The last couplet includes a proper name, often of the poet’s. In the Persian tradition, each couplet was of the same meter and length, and the subject matter included both erotic longing and religious belief or mysticism.”

Should be interesting!

Make, remake, and make again

I have unraveled and restarted the hat I’m knitting four times now. I made the mistake of trusting the pattern and being led astray as a result. Caston on using dpns. Why? I have perfectly good circulars and prefer them and am more dextrous with them. Okay, start again. Cast on (on circulars) the exact number of stitches the pattern says I need for a head as big as mine. Start working the K2P2 rib … and be pretty certain almost from the start that it’s too many stitches, that I’ll be able to fit my head and a few others besides into that knitted circle. Keep knitting until I can no longer deny the foolishness of continuing. Okay, start again. Cast on a significantly decreased number of stitches, make it through the band and then switch to larger needles and stockinette stitch … only to really hate how the stockinette looks. Okay. Oy. pick up stitches at the top of the band and then unravel the stockinette and continue with the larger needles in the K2P2 rib. It’s finally starting to look like something I’m going to want to put on my head. We’ll see how it goes.

Sometimes patterns are perfect. I don’t need to do any adjusting, I can just follow the instructions that have been written by someone who is much better at pattern-making than I am. Perfect. And then there are times like with this hat pattern. I have no idea why this pattern is so bad. Everything about it reads correctly, sounds likely to create exactly the ha I wanted. And then the actual product is a mess. So then I have to start using things I know — I like circulars better than double-pointed needles for example — and start making adjustments to what’s written in the pattern.

And I say all of that to say that the same is likely true with the ghazal. I know what the rules are. I’ve got them written out at the bottom of this and every other post for April in case I forget. I know the rules, and I’ve been making every effort to follow them. But in this past week I’ve found that I have an easier entree into the poem when I let myself muss up the rules a little, at least at first. Each time I’ve pushed through with an assonance or a near rhyme, I’ve been able to keep moving … and then I’ve come back and found a word that says what I want and fits with the rules. I need to remember that I don’t have to rigidly follow what’s written down. Sometimes, the way forward requires a detour, requires that I follow my own path.

Red Sky in Morning

A neon sign forever blaring: “DON’T TRUST ME!”
You’re warned at every turn, despairing. Don’t trust me.

There’s nothing to see here, just keep it moving.
Worry for yourself, how you’re faring. Don’t trust me.

Why do you insist on attempting connection?
You won’t be rewarded for your caring. Don’t trust me.

I call myself out, wave you away from my trouble.
Look in the mirror, confidence tearing. Don’t trust me.

I, Stacie, am the warning hue the sailors watch.
Rusted and angry, there’s no comparing. Don't trust me.

When I was at Saltonstall for my 2019 residency, I opened my desk drawer one day and found a message that I would do well to remember daily.


National Poetry Month 2022: the Ghazal

As I’ve done for more than ten years (what?!), I’ve chosen a poetic form, and I’m going to try to write a poem in that form every day for the month of April … and I’m saying that boldly, knowing that I’ve already failed. I couldn’t find my way through to a poem on Day One, but I’m determined to continue.

The “Ghazal” is the form I’ve chosen for this year. Here is the structure and a little backstory (thank you Poetry Foundation):

“Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love, medieval Persian poets embraced the ghazal, eventually making it their own. Consisting of syntactically and grammatically complete couplets, the form also has an intricate rhyme scheme. Each couplet ends on the same word or phrase (the radif), and is preceded by the couplet’s rhyming word (the qafia, which appears twice in the first couplet). The last couplet includes a proper name, often of the poet’s. In the Persian tradition, each couplet was of the same meter and length, and the subject matter included both erotic longing and religious belief or mysticism.”

Should be interesting!

Here Be Monsters

Here, there, everywhere. We can pretend not to see, not to know, but our refusal to see erases nothing. That’s not how violence works. That’s not how war works. That’s not how genocidal rape works.

Everywhere, Every Time

I was waiting, my stress increased, who are we now?
Inevitable to say the least, who are we now?

Unspoken but known, breath held metaphorically,
It’s always been, never surceased. Who are we now?

When the Chibok girls were taken, we always knew --
lambs sacrified for an evil feast. Who are we now?

We always know because the truth always comes out.
Looking away, nothing's eased. Who are we now?

The stories stayed hidden week after week, untold.
Silence, and still the facts we pieced. Who are we now?

It’s always women, girls, boys. The cruelty’s the point.
Pretend not know, but the wheel’s been greased. Who are we now?


I, Stacie, grind my teeth, unsure how much I can hold.
It’s far from over, we’ve unleashed the beast. Who are we now?

National Poetry Month 2022: the Ghazal

As I’ve done for more than ten years (what?!), I’ve chosen a poetic form, and I’m going to try to write a poem in that form every day for the month of April … and I’m saying that boldly, knowing that I’ve already failed. I couldn’t find my way through to a poem on Day One, but I’m determined to continue.

The “Ghazal” is the form I’ve chosen for this year. Here is the structure and a little backstory (thank you Poetry Foundation):

“Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love, medieval Persian poets embraced the ghazal, eventually making it their own. Consisting of syntactically and grammatically complete couplets, the form also has an intricate rhyme scheme. Each couplet ends on the same word or phrase (the radif), and is preceded by the couplet’s rhyming word (the qafia, which appears twice in the first couplet). The last couplet includes a proper name, often of the poet’s. In the Persian tradition, each couplet was of the same meter and length, and the subject matter included both erotic longing and religious belief or mysticism.”

Should be interesting!