Friday, September 18, 2015

Poetry Friday: Turtles

I posted here and here about our Open Mic events that we had here at school last year for National Poetry Month.  This school year we've decided to try monthly events, and then more frequent ones in April.  Yesterday was our first Open Mic of the semester, and though attendance was sparse at the beginning, by the end we had a nice little crowd.  I shared the following poem, written in 2013 about an experience I had with a friend.  I'm hoping that by our October gathering, I'll have some more recent offerings.  I've been writing a lot, but not much that I feel like sharing with a group. 

Meanwhile, this poem is non-fiction, and I've even illustrated it with portraits of the turtles.    


On the way to the store, we saw a turtle in the road.
You stopped the car and said I should move it
So I did, lifting it gently
By the sides of its yellow-splotched shell
And placing it in the grass.

I wouldn't say it seemed grateful, exactly,
But it ambled off into the trees,
No doubt to a happy future,
A sweet, docile turtle,
Rescued from the dangerous road.
We drove on,
Pleased by our neighborliness.
Today we saved a life, we said.

On the way home, we saw another turtle in the road.
Another chance for a good deed!
This one looked older, more weatherbeaten.
Its cracked shell studded with snails,
Along for the ride.
It had a tail worthy of a very small dinosaur.
And apparently, it didn't want to be moved,
Since when I picked it up,
It clawed my hand, drawing blood.
Startled and in pain,
I dropped the turtle on its already battered shell. 
It flipped itself over onto its feet again,
A prehistoric acrobat, fueled by anger.

You said you'd try, and approached it,
While it glared at you,
alert to your every move.
You offered it a stick, which it attacked,
Breaking it in half. 

This turtle, dancing with rage,
We left behind us.
Clearly it did not wish for rescue,
And we decided it was on its own.

A visit to Google later taught us
The difference between a box turtle and a snapping turtle,
And which one is best left alone.

But you'd think, wouldn't you,
That we'd have learned by our age to be a bit more wary?
That we'd already know something about what to pick up
And what to leave lying there on the road?
But we don't.  Whatever turtle is there,
We always try to help, get involved, handle it, mess with it,
The ones that wander off amiably
And the ones that wave their fearsome dinosaur tails.

Even now, nursing my wound,
I know that the next time I see a turtle in the road,
I'll rush naively to its rescue.

by Ruth, from

Here's today's roundup.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Poetry Friday: It's September

I'm not sure where August went.  I remember it was a really sad month, as I said goodbye to my firstborn and dropped her off at college.  I remember coming home and starting into the new reality.  I'm figuring it out day by day. 

This D.H. Lawrence poem was in the Poem-a-Day email one day last week.  I love the way it captures those moments when you are aware of the existence of your perfect love - for your spouse, your child, your friend - and then the moment when you see the difference between the beautiful ideal and the day to day.  Seriously, why do we suffer when such perfect love exists?  Why can't we live on that plane all the time?  I suspect it has something to do with that line "gone to sleep."  The way your baby is an angel while sleeping, and a needy tyrant once awake.  I want to spend more time being aware of that perfect love.  Sure, the suffering is part of it, but so much gratitude, too, for the love, the love that is "almost bliss."


Bei Hennef

D. H. Lawrence
The little river twittering in the twilight,
The wan, wondering look of the pale sky,
             This is almost bliss.
And everything shut up and gone to sleep,
All the troubles and anxieties and pain
             Gone under the twilight.
Only the twilight now, and the soft “Sh!” of the river
             That will last forever.
And at last I know my love for you is here,
I can see it all, it is whole like the twilight,
It is large, so large, I could not see it before
Because of the little lights and flickers and interruptions,
             Troubles, anxieties, and pains.
             You are the call and I am the answer,
             You are the wish, and I the fulfillment,
             You are the night, and I the day.
                          What else—it is perfect enough,
                          It is perfectly complete,
                          You and I.
Strange, how we suffer in spite of this!

Linda is hosting the roundup here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Reading Update

I seem to have read a lot of forgettable rubbish lately.  I'm embarrassed to include some of them in my list, but here they are:

Book #39 of the year was NOT forgettable rubbish.  It was a reread, Invitation to Tears: A Guide to Grieving Well, by Jonalyn Fincher and Aubrie Hills.  I am sure I will read it again at some point.  It is a quick and helpful book.

Book #40 was Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, by Amber Dusick.  I really liked her book on marriage, which I thought was hilarious, but this one was just so-so.  This could be because I read a lot of it in waiting rooms and exam rooms during my whole summer biopsy scare.

Book #41 was Bossypants, by Tina Fey.  There was some good stuff in this book.  This blog post by Jonalyn Fincher on how Tina Fey taught her to love her body put the book on my radar, and I enjoyed that section of the book.  I also liked the parts where Fey talked about her stint playing Sarah Palin.  But most of this one didn't make much sense to me because I hadn't seen any of the movies or shows it talked about.

Book #42 was The Furious Longing of God, by Brennan Manning, another exception to the forgettable label, and another one that I'll read again.  I love Manning's focus on grace, grace, grace.  God loves us so much!

Book #43 was Harvesting the Heart, by Jodi Picoult.  Just OK.

Book #44 was Little Earthquakes, by Jennifer Weiner.  Not good.  Don't bother with it.

Book #45 was Dead Time, by Stephen White.  I enjoy this series of thrillers about a clinical psychologist and the messes he gets himself into.  What I like best about them is their ongoing character development.  This one was pretty good.

I'm reading All the Light We Cannot See right now, so things are looking up for my reading.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Poetry Friday: Shakespeare

It's Poetry Friday again!  I have been working in my classroom all week, getting ready for school to start next week.  We are going to start late, due to concerns about election aftermath (we have voting on Sunday).  It's a good thing, because I am not ready for school yet.  And a couple of days after school starts, I'm leaving to take my daughter to college.

There's been some beweeping going on.

And yet I am thankful for the people I have in my life, for my long-suffering husband, my children, my parents and brothers, my friends.  I was thinking of these words this morning: "thy sweet love remembered." When I think of all the human love in my life, both past and present, I really do "scorn to change my state with Kings."

It's hard to say goodbye to people because we love them.  If we didn't love them, how barren would our lives be?  Love and loss - Shakespeare understood.

Sonnet XXIX
William Shakespeare

When, in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possest,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising -
Haply I think on thee: and then my state,
Like to the Lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at Heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love rememb'red such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with Kings.

Here's today's roundup.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Poetry Friday - Repelling Skunk

I missed a whole month of Poetry Fridays!  I am back home now, ready to enjoy the last few days of summer before I go back to work.  The summer did not go exactly as I had imagined.  For one thing, I had a rather unpleasant experience about which I wrote two poems.  The first one was called "Biopsy," but thankfully the second was called "I Don't Have Cancer Day."

I'm not going to share those poems today, but I did want to share an original one.  I wrote this one several years ago, but the friend who had told me the story felt shy about me posting it.  This summer the same friend had an encounter with a raccoon, and that got us talking about the earlier encounter and the poem, and I ended up getting his permission to make the poem public.  I'm glad, because I very much enjoyed writing this one, and I hope my PF buddies like it too.

(By the way, writers, how do you deal with this?  A lot of my poems are written for someone.  In cases like that, I always feel I need the person's permission to share the piece, even if it's a less, well, intimate subject than this one.  Do you feel the same?  Or are you more of the Anne Lamott persuasion, that whatever you experience or hear about is fair game for your writing?   Anne says, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”  Well, this one isn't about bad behavior, and it didn't exactly happen to me, but I am still curious to know your experiences with this aspect of writing, if you'd like to share in the comments.)

Repelling Skunk

The black and white unwelcome visitor
Poked around on the back porch,
And got up on hind legs to peer in the door.

Internet research turned up some useful information:
Pee repels skunks.
So Paul, early morning groggy,
Staggered out back
To do the necessary.

At first he felt self-conscious;
What if neighbors were watching?
But when he started to pee with a purpose,
He couldn't help enjoying it,
Outside, in the morning,
In the chilly September air.

He had plenty of pee,
So he kept on going and going,
Feeling free and like a kid again.
The word "whizzing" came to mind
And he wondered when he'd last used that one.
He thought about traveling as a boy,
A twelve-hour trip with no rest stops except bushes.
He thought about camping trips in the woods.
He thought about winter and yellow snow.

He felt briefly invincible
Summoning the mighty powers of pee,
Considered making the rounds of the neighborhood,
Ensuring a skunk-free environment for all.
But then he remembered his age and
Position in the community
And went back indoors instead.

The black and white unwelcome visitor
Only stayed briefly the next time
Before ambling off;
Was it the pee that repelled the skunk?
Paul likes to think so.

Ruth, from

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

(By the way, as though to remind me that I am home in Haiti, there was a long time between the beginning of this post and the end.  Our backup batteries died, and I had to wait to get the generator going.  It's going now, and I'm going to publish...)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Two Missed Weeks of Poetry Friday!

This has turned out to be a more eventful summer than anticipated.  Here are the links to the last two Poetry Friday roundups.  I'll be back posting regularly soon. 

July 10th

July 17th

Hope you're having a good summer!