National Day of Poetry

Poets, today is #NationalPoetryDay. If you use that hashtag to post a short poem using a Public setting, it will appear on a Facebook page, and you can also post on Twitter, where your poems will be grouped with others using that hashtag or #NationalPoetryDay2017.

This seems to me to be an opportunity for promoting poetry in general and our own books of poems in particular, so I’ve been gathering haiku and minipoems from my poetry books and including hotlinks to the appropriate title.

In these examples of my posts on Twitter, notice the use of caps for the poetry titles. This helps to separate the titles from the poems:

#National PoetryDay
VISION
In the early morning light,
everything looks black and white.
Time draws forth true colors.
by Mary Harwell Sayler from my new poetry book Lost in Faith
https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Faith-Mary-Harwell-Sayler/dp/1977605842/

#NationalPoetryDay
MOVING ON
My faith
God’s power
No more mountain
by Mary Harwell Sayler from new book Lost in Faith
https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Faith-Mary-Harwell-Sayler/dp/1977605842/

#NationalPoetryDay
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN LIKES LEAVEN
Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20
One package of yeast
to three handfuls flour – Wait!
Water – Watch it – Rise.
by Mary Harwell Sayler from poetry book Outside Eden
https://www.amazon.com/Outside-Eden-Mary-Harwell-Sayler/dp/0615994865/

#NationalPoetryDay
THE WIND SNAPS ITS FINGERS.
Our oak tree drops on command.
Palm fronds lay prostrate. Rain
washes – band after band
of purifying power
from the Lord’s cleansing hand.
Faith and spider webs still stand.
by Mary Harwell Sayler from poetry book PRAISE!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945099038/

#NationalPoetryDay
REHEARSALS
We practice aging – the bruise
that takes too long to heal,
the once-cracked ankle radiating
pain to indicate rain coming,
a memory lost among many,
many.
by Mary Harwell Sayler from Faces in a Crowd
https://www.amazon.com/Faces-Crowd-Mary-Harwell-Sayler/dp/1539952878/

#NationalPoetryDay
THE PARABLE of ME
Jesus knows
I don’t swim well,
so He held my hand,
and we walked
across the water.
by Mary Harwell Sayler from Lost in Faith
https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Faith-Mary-Harwell-Sayler/dp/1977605842/

#NationalPoetryDay
PRAISE CHRIST OUR LOVER
Who woos us with lilies,
serenades us with sparrows,
feeds us good grain
and fine wine,
poured
from His own
Vintage collection –
our very selves blended –
made One by His love.
by Mary Sayler from poetry book PRAISE!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945099038/

#NationalPoetryDay2017
WEATHERING SANDBURG
The fog comes in cat
fur: pale gray Persian
with traffic sounds
rolled into the round
core of a purring rug,
each end opening to
skies of Siamese blue.
by Mary Sayler from Living in the Nature Poem
https://www.amazon.com/Living-Nature-Poem-Harwell-Sayler/dp/098358527X/

#NationalPoetryDay
CASE STUDY
Low lid clouds open
their sky blue iris, watching
me – small dot, pupil.
by Mary Sayler from Living in the Nature Poem
https://www.amazon.com/Living-Nature-Poem-Harwell-Sayler/dp/098358527X/

~~~

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Reviewing Heaven

In the book, Heaven, written by award-winning poet Rowan Ricardo Phillips and published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, who kindly sent me a copy for review, the poems in this particular “heaven” lean not toward the baptismal but the mythological. So, if you’re expecting a biblical view of heaven, as I was, you might miss the search, as I first did, into heavenly realms that began with light, music, and flights of literary allusions.

While these poems do not land in a particular place or spiritual environment, they explore a variety of routes people have taken to get there. For example, the opening poem, “The Mind After Everything Has Happened” begins with “Perpetual peace. Perpetual light./ From a distance it all seems graffiti” then ends:

“If Hell is a crater to a crater
To a crater to a crater, what then
Is Heaven, aside from its opposite,
Which was glorious, known, and obvious?”

But then there’s the question of whether that last line depicts Heaven or Hell.

The poem “Boys” seems more obvious as the guys cut class to hang out “to play/ Just about all the music we knew,” caught up in the heavenly tunes of their own making. Interestingly, that all-day endeavor ends in suffering:

“When the dark would come, we’d show each other
Our blisters, the painful white whorls peeling,
Our read palms upwards, outstretched and unread.”

After reading the search in those palms, we read “The Starry Night,” where “Night frees its collar from around its neck/ And walks slowly past the two bathing bears/ Wading in the black stellate subheaven.”

From celestial places and beautiful myths to the beauty in nature and love, the poet briefly descends into “News From the Muse Of Not Guilty” with these sensory and highly visual lines:

“He sits in a Hawaiian shirt over a bulletproof vest,
Slumped in a beach chair, its back to the ocean.
Even his red wine spritzer tastes like Skittles now.”

“An Excuse For Mayhem” starts with “The Kingdom of Heaven” as perceived through the Christian faith then ends with this word or, is it a warning?

“…the sublime blue hour
Of the voice, the mute light, mute church, mute choice.”

The final lines of the book, however, find rest in an earthy heaven and this confession:

“…all I want to do is lay my head/
Down, lay my head down on the naked slope
Of your chest and listen there for my heart.”

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, writer and reviewer, has 3 books of poems in print, the first of which, Living in the Nature Poem, was published in 2012 by Hiraeth Press with an e-book version in 2014. That same year, Kelsay Books published Mary’s book of nature poems for children and her book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden.

Heaven: poems, hardback

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Eyes Have I That See: review of selected poems by priest-poet, John Julian

As a long-time lover of poetry by priest-poets, I was delighted to receive a review copy of Eyes Have I That See: selected poems of Fr. John Julian, which Paraclete Press kindly sent me to review.

According to the back cover, Fr. Julian’s work has been compared to other priest-poets such as George Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins, but that may be like comparing peaches and pears! Besides the differing forms and styles, the poems of the two G. H.’s flow with succulent phrases and sweet praise, whereas the poetry of Fr. Julian has a contemporary bite.

As soon as I said that, however, I opened the book again and re-read the first poem, which, yes, makes me think of the Episcopal priest George Herbert in a beautiful litany appropriate for liturgy! The poem, “Anima Christi,” begins by calling:

“Soul of Christ, O, consecrate me;
Flesh of Christ, emancipate me;
Blood of Christ, intoxicate me;
Water from Christ’s side, repair me….”

These exquisite lines continue, focusing on Christ before closing with a plea, “That forever I may praise Thee. Amen.”

As the collection continues, the “I” of the poem could be me, you, the poet, or, most likely, the voice of people since the beginning of time, for instance, as “My golden fruit/ Lies tarnished now” in “The Apple Tree,” and “Gethsemane, BC,” calls on Isaac to arise.

In the poem “’Twixt Dinner And The Tree,” we see “The Beloved gathered” between the Last Supper and the cross and find:

“Old wildly verbal Peter had already felt his words
twist back, his promises stumbling to unanticipated oblivion;
poor James hid dark in tears in some far kosher corner….”

Other poems present contemporary reflections of biblical stories threaded with the timelessness that connects us. Most lines unwind as free verse with others occasionally aligning into traditional meter as shown in this first verse of “Incarnatus.”

“Bethlehem broadened and filled our horizons,
The stable demanded our hearts in return;
God spoke the Word in the flesh of a Man-child
And wrote with that Body what mankind must learn.”

In the last pages, we find thirteen cantos comprising the poem “Ave Maria” as Christ’s Mother Mary accompanies her Son through each crucial moment of His life and death. This long poem provides a fitting way to end the book, and yet, an earlier poem, “Oblation,” made me think of her – and us.

“In all that I do
You act;
In all that I say,
You speak;
In all that I wish,
You will;
In all that I am,
You are.”

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, writer and reviewer, has 3 books of poems in print: Living in the Nature Poem, published in 2012 by Hiraeth Press; a book of nature poems for children, Beach Songs & Wood Chimes, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books, and the book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, also published by Kelsay Books in 2014. She recently completed a fourth book of poems and is now working on more poems based on Bible prayers and stories.

Eyes Have I That See: selected poems, paperback

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