Category Archives: Poetry

The Virus and US by Russell Hvolbek

Miasma—www.stufftoblowyourmind.com

The Virus and US

So, now, a miasma here.

Not only over there, somewhere

backward, but here too in our towns,

gleaning away the soft jostling of

American life; a little money

made and spent, children maturing,

mothers and fathers dying of old age, normal

as it should be, has been, is

normal no more.

The virus roils, exposes our naivety:

Humans have no more purchase of earth

than a virus.

 

 

 

Meet Russell Hvolbek:

Russell Hvolbek is an intellectual historian with a PhD from The University of Chicago. He has written three books, the most recent, Humans: What We Are and Why We Exist, argues that language and the historical fields they produce, brought humans beyond the grooves of nature. Humans came into existence when they became able to name themselves. Humans are a language-historical creation. He is concerned that the utilitarian realm of facts and data have so overwhelmed us, we can no longer ponder what we are.

Russell now finds that people opposed to having to think through difficult ideas are more likely to engage them if they are presented as poetry. He now writes more poetry than prose.
Contact: Russell Hvolbek 818-746-0757 rhhone@hotmail.com

 

On Amazon

On GoodReads

 

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Filed under COVID19, Guest Bloggers, Poetry

Shelter In Place, A Poem

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it across the world. Here at Building a Better Story we’ve been sharing stories and wisdom on the inevitable—aging. Now the universe has tossed a time bomb into our timelines. Instead of aging gracefully, we need to stay alive! I’m asking our guest contributors to share their thoughts on the Coronavirus pandemic. Returning to Building a Better Story, please welcome poet Theresa Ortez with her positive message on the lockdown and disease, Shelter in Place. Welcome back, Theresa!

By Theresa Ortez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you meet on the street
Stay away 6 feet
Cover mouth and nose
Don’t get too close
Stay inside
Seniors should abide
Still, I want to go outside
No handshaking to greet
Can I use my feet?
Stay healthy until we meet
We are in this together
We shall defeat

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Filed under COVID19, Inspiration, Poetry

The Dilemma of the Quercus—or—Oak Erotica

April 2020 might not look like past years: the bright green of new grasses, the pinks and creams of flowering fruit trees, sunny daffodils, Easter-colored tulips. Maybe you haven’t been out to see the lambs gamboling in the country or noticed the sparrows building nests. Maybe that orange  isn’t the blooming California poppies but  the fake tan on President Trump as he makes himself actor, director and producer of Coronavirus—It’ll Go Away Soon so Just Forget It.

 

Even if you’re sheltering in place, you can turn off the horror show, step outside and watch Spring. Pull some weeds or tie up your spent daffodils. Rake up the dropped camellias. Pick daisies. Watch your trees unfurl new leaves. Tweet with the chickadees, listen to the doves. Count the crows—there’s one more than last year. Take a breath, let it out slowly. Feel the renewing energy of the season, and let go of your anxiety. Now find a sunny corner and read a poem. Or better yet, write a poem. It’s Poetry Month after all. Nothing is as healing as a good dose of nature and poetry!

 

The Dilemma of the Quercus—Or—Oak Erotica

You elongate your catkins,

male flowers dangled

from the tips of your naked limbs

in seduction of the wind before Spring

unfurls your pink or chartreuse canopy.

Your few females tuck up at the crook

Nondescript, awaiting the ecstasy of pollen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monoecious yet self-incompatible

you must count on your distant-relations

standing near, and the hillsides

abreeze in ochre, or the powdered

buzz of native bees

to deliver the yellow dust

that pollinates life into your acorns

to grow fine new trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find this and many more poems in my latest chapbook available on Amazon.

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Filed under Books, Poetry

Young Again

 

 

Please welcome talented artist and writer

Elizabeth Stokkebye

 

YOUNG AGAIN

Young again

with a past

that

 was my future

I daydream

and I do

as I please

I flirt

and I dance

and have sex

I dress

in layers

and in colors

I write

with seams

and stratum

I look back

by looking

forward

Time

Is

timeless

Elizabeth Stokkebye is a writer and a painter of Scandinavian descent. She lives north of San Francisco. She holds a BA from the University of California at Berkeley in Scandinavian Studies and an MA from the University of Washington in Scandinavian Languages and Literature.

Elizabeth likes to tell stories, whether in words or with paint. She draws from fairytales and literature when writing and painting her figures. Her family, ancestry, and history are the foundation from which Elizabeth’s creativity and imagination spring. She combines her love for art and words on her website.

www.elizabethstokkebye.blog

 

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Filed under Aging, Inspiration, Poetry, Students

Bye Bye National Poetry Month—For Now

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month 2019. I’ve enjoyed reading a poem (or two) sent to my inbox daily from POEM A DAY, Poets.org and KNOPF POETRY Poem-A-Day April 2019 (you’ll need to search for Poem a Day to find this and sign up—next year.) I’d feel sad, but there are may places on the internet to find poems. Here’s a couple more addresses:

 

The Poetry Foundation           Loads of resources

American Verse Project          A collection of American poetry pre-1920

Contemporary American Poetry Archive   Full collections of selected poets

Poetry Society of America      Full of great info, readings and a blog

Most of the sites include audio podcasts and blogs. Every day can be national poetry day!  And if you’re reading this blog post, you probably write poetry as well. Have you searched lately for places to publish? There are many. First go to Poets and Writers for extensive listings for chapbooks, calls for manuscripts, contests and conferences. The organization will send you a weekly prompt for poetry, memoir and fiction. And they’ve got great articles, too.

Here are some other places:

Pallette Poetry

Poetry Foundation

Frontier Poetry

The Sun Magazine

Rattle

It’s not over! Read and write poetry all year.

Join a group.         Take a class.       Celebrate a poet!

I’m celebrating the poet and book that set me on poetic fire as a teen:

And Let Our Two Selves Speak

For Lawrence Ferlinghetti at 100 years old

 And I am waiting for a rebirth of wonder

A Coney Island of the Mind in one hand

a cone of sugared churros in the other.

Come lie with me and be my love,

clink our glasses, a bubbling prosecco

at the top of this life

while the dog trots freely in the street

And let our two selves speak

where

a ring dove cooed in a cove

we kiss and take in

all the world offers:

raindrops and firestorms, madmen and kindness,

still deep lakes, and murder, weddings,

hive collapse and high rises, fake news

and novels; farmers and famine; poets

and pundits  and

have you ever stopped to consider

to wonder

the long street

filled with all the people of the world

and all the possibilities of the world

And have enough of kissing me

And have enough of waiting

perpetually and forever

a renaissance of wonder.

We carry it in our hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe!

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Just a Little Sky

Poet Donald Turner Joins us today with a little sky ditty.

 

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Ana Manwaring 7/2012

Drifting sky of white on blue

Painted sky in Autumn hue

Sculpted sky in shades of gray

Twinkling sky at end of day

 

photo credits: giphy.com, freepik and David K. Prothero

 

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Filed under Poetry, Students

Firestorm

We’ve seen her brilliant and horrifying photo, now here is Cathy’s experience of the terror of the October fires. Please welcome guest blogger, Cathy Carsell.

Cathy Carsell writes from the heart, taking inspiration from natural beauty and emotional essence. A songwriter, poet and editor, she graduated from San Francisco State, becoming an audio engineer in the burgeoning music industry of the Bay Area. An avid sports fan, Cathy breathes and thrives in the captivating community of the Napa Valley.

fire CAthy

Photo by Cathy Carsell

Firestorm

Mid October night
Especially long hot summer
Red flag warning, trees falling
Alarm bells ring in my head

Wild wind whipping
Power lines snap
sparking dried tinder
from years of drought
Look out, look out there
ridge of flames rises
as we stand on my deck

Alarm bells ring in your head
Alarm bells ring in your head
Send up a prayer for the dead
You know you’re going to find some dead

 

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Fire don’t discriminate
You’re in it’s way you’re done
Faster than a man can run
Run everybody run

Grab your kids and grab your dog
No time to hesitate
No warning it’s too late
Like a tsunami wave
Only your life to save

Alarm bells ring in your head
Alarm bells ring in your head
Send up a prayer for the dead
You know you’re going to find some dead

Five fires in one night
How we going to fight this fight
Wind whips a firestorm
Racing over miles and miles
Taking homes, taking lives

 

images

cnn.com

Check on Grandma
Roll her down
Load the horses, get the sheep
Pray for all our souls to keep
Through hot blazing nights

Alarm bells ring in our heads
Alarm bells ring in our heads
Sending up prayers for the dead
Know we’re going to find some dead

Check with friends and family
tell them I’m OK
I know I’ll never be the same
after these October days

Alarm bells ring in my head
Alarm bells ring in my head
Sending up a prayer for the dead
Glad I’m not among the dead

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Filed under Fire Season, Poetry, Students

On Crime And Punishment

 

Chapter Xii  

Crime And Punishment  

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Then one of the judges of the city stood forth and said, “Speak to us of Crime and Punishment.”
And he answered saying:
It is when your spirit goes wandering upon the wind,
That you, alone and unguarded, commit a wrong unto others and therefore unto yourself.
And for that wrong committed must you knock and wait a while unheeded at the gate of the blessed.
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Like the ocean is your god-self;
It remains for ever undefiled.
And like the ether it lifts but the winged.
Even like the sun is your god-self;
It knows not the ways of the mole nor seeks it the holes of the serpent.
But your god-self does not dwell alone in your being.
Much in you is still man, and much in you is not yet man,
But a shapeless pigmy that walks asleep in the mist searching for its own awakening.
And of the man in you would I now speak.
For it is he and not your god-self nor the pigmy in the mist, that knows crime and the punishment of crime.

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hippopx.com

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.
But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you,
So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.
And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,
So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.
Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self.
You are the way and the wayfarers.
And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone.
Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone.

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apnews.com

And this also, though the word lie heavy upon your hearts:
The murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder,
And the robbed is not blameless in being robbed.
The righteous is not innocent of the deeds of the wicked,
And the white-handed is not clean in the doings of the felon.
Yea, the guilty is oftentimes the victim of the injured,
And still more often the condemned is the burden-bearer for the guiltless and unblamed.
You cannot separate the just from the unjust and the good from the wicked;
For they stand together before the face of the sun even as the black thread and the white are woven together.
And when the black thread breaks, the weaver shall look into the whole cloth, and he shall examine the loom also.
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If any of you would bring judgment the unfaithful wife,
Let him also weight the heart of her husband in scales, and measure his soul with measurements.
And let him who would lash the offender look unto the spirit of the offended.
And if any of you would punish in the name of righteousness and lay the ax unto the evil tree, let him see to its roots;
And verily he will find the roots of the good and the bad, the fruitful and the fruitless, all entwined together in the silent heart of the earth.
And you judges who would be just,
What judgment pronounce you upon him who though honest in the flesh yet is a thief in spirit?
What penalty lay you upon him who slays in the flesh yet is himself slain in the spirit?
And how prosecute you him who in action is a deceiver and an oppressor,
Yet who also is aggrieved and outraged?

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And how shall you punish those whose remorse is already greater than their misdeeds?
Is not remorse the justice which is administered by that very law which you would fain serve?
Yet you cannot lay remorse upon the innocent nor lift it from the heart of the guilty.
Unbidden shall it call in the night, that men may wake and gaze upon themselves.
And you who would understand justice, how shall you unless you look upon all deeds in the fullness of light?
Only then shall you know that the erect and the fallen are but one man standing in twilight between the night of his pigmy-self and the day of his god-self,
And that the corner-stone of the temple is not higher than the lowest stone in its foundation.

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Text from PoemHunter.com

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Forgiveness

normancousins1

Please welcome guest blogger, Dina Corcoran, whose poem, Forgiveness, offers a surprising glance into the subject. Dina is a memoirist, poet and survivor of the 2017 Tubbs Fire. She has won awards two years running in the Jessamyn West Literary contest.

Forgiveness

 

In friends I like a cheerful nature
And honesty enriches the deal.

 

I’d sooner sit with realness
Than suffer the pretentious.

 

Wanda, with her southern accent and fake genteel manner,
 Asks “Why is it you don’t like me?”

 

Gently I caress her hand.
It’s not her nature to understand.

Unknown

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The Pain That Dogs my Heels

harrietbeecherstowe1Forgiveness isn’t for the perpetrator of our hurt, it’s for our own peace and happiness. Not letting go of hurt, pain, resentment, or anger harms us far more than it harms your sister, boyfriend, mother, boss, wife, friend. It frees us to live in the present without anger, contempt or seeking revenge. In fact, it doesn’t only free us from negative feelings and actions, it reduces depression and stress, allowing us to embrace peace, hope and self confidence. Forgiveness is a balm of healing for hurt, grievance and guilt; it is not acceptance of wrongs done to you or wrongs you have done to others. And it isn’t quick and easy—it’s a practice.

In the coming posts, writers will express what forgiveness means to them.

bernardmeltzer1

Forgiveness  by Ana Manwaring

Time, that yoke, that feckless lover,
a raptor flying ever forward
into the mythical land of yet to be;
might time bring forgiveness?
Perhaps with time comes peace.
 
Maybe peace is here now
            and now
                        and now
                                    and—walking our paths with us.
 
Maybe now I can forgive.
Maybe this is the lesson in letting go
I learn anew each moment.
 
This, the pain that dogs my heels,
a village cur, a half-wolf, half-dog,
lapping up scraps from my middens.
            He nips at my ankles,
            my outstretched fingers.
            He growls and jealously guards his prize.
 
How his tiny sharp teeth gleam
in the dull morning light.
 
I lay open my heart;
my blessings release
to whirl the clouds.
 
The pack howls in the distance.

mayaangelou1

Stay tuned! And thanks to BrainyQuote.com for these excellent memes.

 

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