Christmas Is Coming…

It always feels more like Christmas when the first wrapped gifts show up under the tree. There are no ornaments on our tree right now — just lights and a few ropes of red beads — but the gifts say, Christmas is coming! It’ll be a strange holiday, as I’m sure many Hanukkah celebrations were this year, without the family gatherings. Hopefully, with everyone trying to be part of the solution, instead of part of the Covid problem, we’ll have opportunities to gather in the new year.

In the meantime, we try to carry on. For me, that includes meeting virtually with my local Poetry Circle every month via Zoom. Our December ‘monthly challenge’ was a French poetic form, called a Lai. It required us to write a nine-line poem with a certain rhyming scheme and syllable count. Trying to write in a form like this can feel restrictive. Words need to be chosen carefully and you can’t always write the complete sentence or the full description you wish to share. This makes me think of our experiences during the pandemic. We’re confined. Life feels restricted.

But then, writing within a poetic form can also force you to whittle down your words to the most important ones. No fluff. No excess. You get right to the heart of the matter. And that’s what all this social-distancing and lack of normalcy has done for so many of us this year. It’s made us reflect on what’s most important in our lives — and in the world. We’ve learned some things about ourselves. And we’ve learned to appreciate the little things.

My hope is that each of us takes this holiday or this end-of-year time as an opportunity to reflect and appreciate, and to choose what’s most important going forward.

FYI: Here’s my Lai poem:

Covid Christmas Eve

Carols playing low
Gift-wrap and a bow
Just right
Softly falling snow
Christmas lights aglow
How I hope you know
I’m missing you so

Gratitude Spiral: Day 293

Today, I’m grateful for poetry at bedtime.

Lately, the only time I sit down to read is at bedtime. I’ve been having trouble concentrating on anything that takes real critical thinking and study at the end of the day. So, recently I grabbed a book of Mary Oliver’s poetry from the shelf. What a pleasure to read a poem or two that bring a sense of freshness and satisfaction before laying down to sleep.

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 261

Today, I’m grateful for the opportunity to see the home of Emily Dickinson.

Emily Dickinson is one of the first poets to catch my attention when I was in school. Born in Amherst, MA, she wrote her poetry there, too, in the same house where she was born. I’d always wanted to see it and we were in the area yesterday. So, we drove there. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we couldn’t go inside. Maybe someday. 🙂

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 253

Today, I’m grateful for a good poetry challenge.

Each month, the facilitator of my local library’s Poetry Circle challenges us with a new poetry form to try. This month, we’re to write a Triolet. It’s an eight-line poem with some repeating lines and a few rhyming ones. A good poetry challenge really works the brain and gets the creative juices spritzing! If you want to try one, check out the Writer’s Digest explanation of the rules. Have fun!

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 194

Today, I’m grateful for all the emails and social media posts regarding Black Lives Matter.

Yesterday, I received an email from the Academy of American Poets. Their message:

We explicitly denounce state-sanctioned violence, white supremacy, and the racist belief systems that have been with us throughout our nation’s history. Black Lives Matter.

They went on to promote the importance of poetry and the power of language in the journey forward. It’s heartening to see so many organizations and companies taking a stand. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of taking action to eradicate racism in our society.

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 147

Today, I’m grateful for Earth Day 2020.

It’s a strange Earth Day this year. The human race is battling a pandemic, but the earth itself is healing in our absence. Maybe I’ll write a poem about it today. Here are two that I wrote on Earth Day 2015:

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 131

Today, I’m grateful for poetry.

April is National Poetry Month and I’m grateful for all that poetry has meant to me, as both a reader and a writer. From Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, to Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Maya Angelou, and E.E. Cummings, various poets have captivated my imagination throughout my life and taught me new ways of looking at things. In this strange time of social distancing, The Academy of American Poets offers a special collection to share and reflect on with their #ShelterInPoems initiative. Check them out. 🙂

What are you grateful for today?

Come, My Spirit


Come, my spirit,
we’ve been to dark places that seem to be the end.

Come, see the red-gold flutter of trees
against a blue enamel sky.

Come, hear the solid thunk-thunk of a woodpecker
searching; the crispy crunch of leaves shed
like so much dead skin.

Come, smell the spice of just cut grass.

Come, feel the cool breeze that sends
a quiver of living across your cheek.



In the past week, my life has been touched by two deaths. The first was a 93 year old woman who had lived a long, beautiful life, as attested to by her six children. The second was a 57 year old man whose body had been ravaged by cancer and whose children are the same ages as mine. We’ve all felt the loss of loved ones. If we’re lucky, we hold onto their smiles in photographs. If we’re blessed, we hold onto their smiles in our mind’s eye. These recent losses prompted this poem:

Your smile is a bird
perched on the porch railing
peering in my window —
our eyes meet
outside of time
and then it flies
perhaps to where
it most belongs
and I am left

Lesser Things…

The first lines of this poem emerged in response to an ugly family situation. The poem sat unfinished for months. Then I began to read the book Left To Tell, by Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan holocaust in 1991. Soon after, terrorists attacked in Paris. I finished reading that amazing book, which describes love and forgiveness in the midst of horror and hate, just before the mass shooting in San Bernadino, California. And we’re all  aware that in addition to the violent acts that grab news headlines, there are ongoing struggles in this country and in the world at large fueled by racial, social, gender-based and religious bigotry. This poem is my response to hate on all levels…

Lesser Things

There are lesser things
than love, my friend,
and we have tried them all:DSC_0738
striving to recall
every misalignment in
the history of time.
We carry
bricks of sadness
for a world of our design.

The feathers of a goldfinch,
are as gifted
as a hawk’s —
in daily plight and purpose,
beauty won’t be lost.
Who’s to say
which of these
is wholly the more blessed,
for each deserves
a liberal flight and each one
craves its nest.

A single act
can bridge a gap or magnify
a fault.

There are lesser things
than love, my friend,
and we have tried them all.