Poetry Blog Digest 2024, Week 6

A personal selection of posts from the Poetry Blogging Network and beyond. Although I tend to quote my favorite bits, please do click through and read the whole posts. You can also browse the blog digest archive, subscribe to its RSS feed in your favorite feed reader, or, if you’d like it in your inbox, subscribe on Substack.

This week: love and chocolate, the return of light, bringing scarecrows to life, the cost of beauty, and much more. Enjoy,

Each holiday is apt to spread out like water or ice over a flat calendar’s square and become a season unto itself, yes? Witness the Boxing Week Sales, Black Friday month, and the Christmas quarter. […]

Now we are nearly there. Heart’s Day. Another 8 days. And because crowds, the bookings for the 14th, probably start on the 9th so 3 days. And because it’s the month of red, chocolate, and love, my Valentine’s reading is on the 15th. There’s a spillover of St. Valentine’s to the 17th in a Hummingbird chocolate tasting which I probably won’t go to.

But love. And Poetry. Set aside poetry. What is love? A relationship? A sensation? An immersion? Is it a choice or is it a thousand habits of behaviour? A lens or framework to interpret the world? A word imposed categorically around things, not inherently a thing itself? An excuse for chocolate? All those questions could stand for poetry as easily.

Pearl Pirie, A Valentine’s Week Reading

i don’t need to be turned into chocolate
to be devoured. here is my cordial cherry.
here is how i gut myself
in the interest of becoming a swan.
dear lover, haven’t you ever
taken yourself apart without a manual?
become a tiny wreckage?

Robin Gow, tunnel of love

What are you in love with? Chocolate? The origins of the Japanese Bobtail? The lifecycle of periodical cicadas?  There is so much to fall in love with and so many ways to focus and research that curiosity can become overwhelming. I frequently feel lost in a mire of information and beset by a creeping sense that there is not enough time. Not enough. Not enough and I am wasting it by wondering what, where and how in a recursive loop.

I read a beautiful piece on Wendy Pratt’s Notes from the Margin a couple of weeks ago, detailing the work of writers who are truly in love with their specialism. I am in awe of those who devote their energy wholeheartedly and with such excellence. My first response was to think that I’d find a subject to get properly in to and write about it. Of all the things I love there must be on that is top of the tree. And there is, for a moment or a day, a week at best. But then growing delphiniums, or Persian cooking, or planning an expedition in Anglesey comes along and my focus is taken. […]

I stepped a little further back. Is there a thread that links these things? What attracts me and forces my attention, my falling in love? It’s a certain feeling, one that has been with me since my first walks on the hills near my home, one that was a companion through the fissured landscape of childhood and one that I’ve only recently been able to name. It’s a feeling of strength and self-belief, a feeling of connection with nature and the elements and there are times when it’s the only thing that has kept me going. This wild feeling that threads my work, my day, my dreams.

Kathryn Anna Marshall, This Wild Feeling

I’m out early. After running the Dawn Chorus zoom writing club at seven am and seeing a sunrise smear of gold along the horizon from my desk I want to get into the fresh air and apricate in the sun, feel its warmth on me, let it energise me. I have to be back in 40 minutes as the builder’s are putting a new kitchen in, finally and I’ll have decisions to make on plug sockets and backboards. My whole life feels like a clutter of different things I must do to make progress in all the areas of my life and yet, at the same time a strange inability to focus or get anything done is upon me.

I know what works to unstick me when I get like this. It’s being outside. It is a mile of walking down to the river and back, it is the letting go, the feeling of one part of my brain being overtaken by another – the part of my brain that must adhere to the life of a human is taken over by the part of my brain that is free to react instinctively to the world. As I turn and head home, away from the river, swerving back around the contour of a fresh ploughed field, two hares appear, completely oblivious to me. They chase each other, zig zagging, kicking back, sailing over the deep ruts of fresh plough lines. I feel something pulled up from my stomach into my chest that is hard to describe or define; it rises, it is excitement, thrill, a kind of ecstasy to see this, to be present in their world, and to know that their world is also my world.

Wendy Pratt, Two Hares

I’ve noticed my writing follows patterns that follow the season. Winter is often a fallow period and if I do write poems they are full of ice and darkness and grumpiness at both. It’s been a tough winter, twice the car’s battery has drained and twice the electric car has been stuck on the driveway because it’s not powerful enough to make it over the 4cm of ice. A pipe has burst in the shed and I have shovelled a mountain of snow, over and over. I hate winter at the best of times, but this one can seriously get tae as they say in Scotland, with a colourful flourish at the end. 

Proper spring is still a long way off. Finland is still buried under a blanket of snow and the temperature is currently -15C and these both show no sign of easing up. However, the light has returned. My poems are starting to show hints of hope, sun and an activity that they don’t show during my winter hibernation. I’m hoping that I’ll start writing more and this will help lift my mood. 

I joined Angela Carr‘s January online writing course and though I don’t have a lot of time or energy in the week to write, I have been dipping into her prompts at the weekend. I’m also considering Wendy Pratt‘s What to Look for in Spring course. I often find this sort of prompt-based online course gives me a boost to get back into writing after a quieter period and I’ve done various courses with Wendy and Angela over the years with good results. 

Gerry Stewart, Return of the Light

I’m sending you a brief postcard from snowdrop time. Virginia has always had “midwinter spring, its own season,” to quote Four Quartets–a balmy few days in February–but never, that I can recall, so early in the month. Omens everywhere.

Lesley Wheeler, Divination by poem

As is not uncommon in our region, we have a warm and sunny spate of days that evoke thoughts of spring…often thoughts that are dashed by late-arriving snow and ice storms. The days are an hour longer than they were at the December solstice, and some plants bloom or start to bloom: witch hazel, snowdrops, hellebores, skunk cabbage, winter aconite.

In the Chinese lunar-solar calendar, these weeks mark the start of spring: 立春 lìchūn. (Hence the new year commences, celebrated this year on February 10.)

I love the emergence of new growth in springtime and enjoy looking for buds and leaf-tips, but winter’s crucial to this environment. It plays its role by enforcing dormancy and restful, unperceived rejuvenation. Nonetheless, sometimes I resent the way it teases–knowing that the freezing will return and that mid-March snows are not uncommon here.

Ann E. Michael, lìchūn

Ice pellets making hieroglyphics, spilling secrets.
Though I can’t read them, I stare,
feeling them as drifting thoughts or
distant town heralds calling and foretelling
news too big for me to perceive.

Cumulus, nimbostratus, undulatus
asperitas. Noctilucent clouds, mare’s tail,
mesospheric bubbles and nets of cream
floating over the town the way love
and sorrow float within me like giant pudgy babies of emotion.
Dressed in white and shade, they form
my perceived self only for moments,
while misty to my companions.

Rachel Dacus, When Clouds and Poetry Seem to Rhyme

They congregate in clouds, turn weather into a verb, conjugate it into every form of severity, turn once blue skies into atmospheric rivers of misery.

These rains aren’t wet behind the ears. They’ve got cousins named Evacuate, nieces that topple trees.

Stalled out over L.A., the rains wanna tour the stars’ homes, wet-walk Sunset, get a massive star on Hollywood Boulevard.

When one raindrop meets another, then another, it quickly becomes a flash mob of flash floods, a roaming gang of rising rivers.

Come spring, everything will be green. But for now, massive downbursts of down.

Rich Ferguson, It starts with one raindrop, then another, and another

Is there a
word after which there can be
no sound? A breath after which
there can be no more life? A

tipping point beyond which fish
see themselves in the sky? Yet we
live in the promise of tomorrow.

Rajani Radhakrishnan, Tipping Point

In a television interview, the filmmaker we both admire mentions how she never uses bookmarks. She has always been able to remember the last page she read of any book, and is constantly baffled by the inability of others to do the same. She glances, distractedly, behind her as she says this, somewhere off-camera, in the direction of the studio floor. What might she be looking at? Her films are like distances we have yet to reach, capable of articulating broad silences. When so many others are unable to comprehend that silence has a language at all.


It was not so much that we crave suffering, but to understand precisely what the suffering means.

rob mclennan, Little arguments: stories

My current project of delving into the history of my hometown, through exploring the lives of ‘ordinary’ people buried in the church and graveyards there, generally favours the medium of prose to the tell extended family stories. But sometimes what I want to say fits into the shape and concentration that poetry offers – a measured and gradual revelation, down the page, of image and emotion.

When I first started writing poetry it was ‘all about me’! I was totally unaware of the idea of needing to craft my experiences and language choices so they spoke to a (much!) wider audience. 

In 1992 I attended my first ever residential writing course at Ty Newydd, the National Writing Centre of Wales, in Llanystumdwy on the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales. The course was called ‘Poetry in Mountains’ – and, true to the description, we were encouraged to write poems and climb mountains, including a couple of sessions of rock-climbing. And if that wasn’t enough to make me fall in love with poetry combined with the natural world, some advice given to me by one of the course leaders, Terry Gifford, completely changed my approach to writing. 

‘At some point, Lynne,’ he said, ‘Catharsis has to give way to communication.’

This wasn’t just the proverbial light-bulb switching on. This was a whole stadium of floodlights illuminating my understanding of, and relationship to, writing poetry.

Lynne Rees, Poems about and for ordinary people ~ Before

All across the country, writers are headed to the middle of the country, to the AWP convention in Kansas City.  I will not be going for a variety of reasons.  I’m grateful that I’m not going for a variety of reasons: I’m glad I’m not spending the money, but chiefly, I’m grateful because I’m not being exposed to all the diseases that are running rampant.  Between the airline travel and the packed conference rooms and all the people who will attend even if they are sick (and when they think they aren’t contagious yet/still), I’m glad to be staying home.

Yet even as I write those words, I feel a bit of a pang.  It would be so wonderful to hear Jericho Brown give the keynote address.  Some of those sessions would be inspiring.  I’ve given up on making connections that might open literary doors, but some part of me still wishes it could happen, and it’s not likely to happen while I’m sitting in my house in North Carolina.

Part of me wonders what literary doors I’d like to have open and what I think would happen if they did.  For decades, I had the hope of a better academic job or maybe some other form and fame/fortune.  I thought about something that might turn into something I could turn into a lecture circuit.  But now, the thought of all that airline travel makes me very, very tired.

And here’s what’s strangest to me:  I am fairly satisfied with the life I have right now.  One reason I went to AWP in the past was because it was a way to get away from the crushing drudgery of my regular job, and I could do it without having to spend precious vacation days.  That opportunity was worth the expense to me.

These days, I’d rather be here than just about anywhere.  I am not used to this feeling.  And I hope I never take this feeling for granted.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott, AWP (Or Not) 2024

While looking at what happened to twenty-three people who were included in ‘The Young British Poets’ anthology, published in 1971, I read that towards the end of his life, aside from a few individual poems here and there, Brian Jones gave up bothering to send his work to publishers.

This is an attitude very close to my own, though technology has now afforded me an outlet through this blog. […]

In that old book ‘The Young British Poets’, my teenaged self had circled one poem of his called ‘I Know She Sleeps’ and underlined bits of another called ‘Visiting Miss Emily’. I’ve seen his work in various places since, including another substantial anthology called Scanning The Century. Jones was a working class boy, born in Islington in 1938, raised in Ealing, where he went to the local grammar school, before a scholarship to Cambridge. He went on to teach in psychiatric units and prisons and lived his later years in France.

Between 1966 and 1990, I think he had nine collections of varying length, and then nothing aside from a few individual poems in magazines for the last nineteen years of his life. The excellent, independent Shoestring Press from Nottingham published his ‘New and Selected Poems’ in 2013. [Not that new, given he died in 2009, but we get the drift. Ed.]

According to his obituary in The Guardian, he had a deep-rooted sense of alienation ‘and his Cambridge days were not kindly remembered’. I can imagine the prejudice and disappointment he had to deal with there, given he was a working class ‘scholarship’ boy. The respectful obituary also said that in his later years ‘he recognised that it was the writing that mattered to him, not what happened to the work afterwards’, an attitude that contributed to his relative critical neglect.


I’ve been thinking about poetry for children recently. That’s partly because our youngest is a toddler, and I’ve been reminded all over again just how many of the best books for the very youngest children are in verse. Quite a lot of poor verse, of course, but plenty is actually excellent. I’d be very surprised if any poet in English sells better than Julia Donaldson, and deservedly so: she’s a good poet, whose poems not only bear repetition but — truly an acid test this — remain charming and enjoyable even on the fifteenth rendition in the space of twelve hours. (All the same, my absolute favourite toddler picture book-poem remains the delightful, and metrically extremely satisfying, Peepo, by Janet and Allen Ahlberg.)

But verse disappears from the landscape of children’s literature quite rapidly after the earliest years. You can still buy illustrated anthologies of poetry for children, but I haven’t seen any recently published examples of the sort of un-illustrated but hard-wearing volumes designed for a parent or teacher to read aloud, several of which were still knocking around when I was a child, even if they weren’t exactly new then, either. In fact, I had such fond memories of the contents of one particular volume, The Book of a Thousand Poems, that I bought a second-hand copy to read to my own children.1 It starts with the simplest sorts of nursery rhymes and counting rhymes, but then expands to encompass an enormous range, grouped loosely in thematic sections but with everything otherwise cheek-by-jowl: plenty of pieces by authors like Enid Blyton and dozens of other forgotten or largely forgotten authors of the early 20th century, but also a huge range of poems and extracts reaching back to Shakespeare, Herrick, Watts, Bunyan, dozens of 18th and 19th century poets, and forward roughly as far as the 1930s (there are some pieces by Laurence Binyon and Siegfried Sassoon, for instance). Taken together, it’s actually not a bad entry point into English verse for anyone, child or adult, if you take a long view and don’t mind a version of English poetry which essentially ends before modernism.2 (A version which, after all, remains the standard, or at least preferred understanding of what “poetry” is, for most people outside self-consciously literary circles.) Three of the best represented authors are William Blake, John Clare and Christina Rossetti. (And in case any of my readers have sleepless children, it also has a very substantial section of cradle songs and bedtime poems.)

Victoria Moul, On poetry for children

I’m sitting in the gods of Windsor Royal theatre with Mum and a couple of my friends, and I’m wearing a pale brown Biba dress with loops from tight fitted sleeves around my middle fingers. It’s my 16th birthday treat and a young Ian McKellan is playing Hamlet. 

Roll on a lifetime and I’m walking along Western Road after pilates, talking to a new friend about McKellan’s return to Hamlet, on film

The memory of that teenage theatre trip is so powerful and visceral, that McKellan’s name always evokes that Biba dress, how great it made me feel, the sense of life in the wings, the language of Shakespeare.

Jackie Wills, Biba, a villain and Ian McKellan as Hamlet

I know writers who say they hate titling their work, or that they’re terrible at it, and they often seek feedback from others on what to call their stories, poems, or books. I actually love titles, though I admit they can be tricky. Often, a title will come to me first before the poem does; it’s the seed from which the poem grows. Similarly, my book titles have been talismans I’ve carried with me through much of the process of writing the book itself, representing to me the soul of the project I’m pursuing and keeping me on track. There are lots of different kinds of titles, but often, when they’re working, I think of them as existing somewhere between a label and a prayer. They capture something of the essence of the thing, sometimes in ways I can’t articulate. 

But the soul of a thing can also shift, subtly, revealing new aspects of itself or refining itself as through fire. In these cases, sometimes a new name must also be born. 

This happened to me with two of my four books: the title that carried me through the composition process was no longer quite right by the end. These books needed new, truer faces with which to greet the world. For example, my first poetry collection, Best Bones, which was published in 2014, had two long-term titles before it was accepted for publication. The first iteration of the project was my MFA Thesis, which was called The Only House in the Neighborhood after one of the poems in the collection about an off-kilter dollhouse, and I carried that title with me after graduation as I added to and honed the poems therein. The following year, I had the great fortune of spending seven months as a Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown where I was able to be a full-time poet (a vocation which, it turns out, includes a lot of long walks and watching the full Criterion Collection film catalog from the local library). Given the history and setting of the place I was in, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the title of my collection-in-progress became Blue Whale. In my thinking, the “house” from the original title was now the whale itself – the final line of the titular poem being “O to be a mansion steering itself.” But by the time the book was accepted for publication a few years later, I came to feel that Blue Whale, which I loved, was too soft a title for the book I’d written – a book of beauty and tenderness and domesticity, but also of power dynamics, loss, and anger. It had softness and curve, but also bony elbows that might jab you now and again. Or, like a sister, it might “accidentally” pull your hair. I settled on Best Bones, letting the skeleton become the frame for this book of wobbly structures – bodies, families, homes. 

Sarah Rose Nordgren, A New Name

De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da consists of four sections, each section developing a particular theme. As a poet who writes a lot about silence, I was particularly taken with the first section, which examines its different facets. [Sue] Spiers’ silence can be a moment of peace, wished for in her witty, utterly relatable spell-poem, To quell garrulousness, offensive chat and bombast. In Everyone as Mannequins, however, she offers us a typically original perspective on the minute’s silence called to remember the fallen. It is a time she says when the participants ‘can hear the voice/ that speaks to each one, knows all/ their obedience/prayers/guilt.’ Yet in classic Spiers’ fashion she challenges the need for this. Why do we need silence to honour those who have sacrificed themselves for us? Instead, she demands that ‘respect should be shouted/ loudly/thankfully/passionately. / Let all these still bodies/ sing/holler/roar against destruction.’ In other poems she presents silence as something sinister: a sort of aggression in which ‘Stone still, the argument halts; hatred grown/ stone-eyed, nose to nose, wills pitting in silence’ , In Silence); a mask for the results of violence (‘Bruises under foundation, a thousand excuses; / bruises covered by sleeves, fists hitting in silence’ (In Silence); the unwelcome symptom of disability ((Jealous of the Listening Air); a form of bribery used by the teenage daughter in Disappearance to persuade her parents to let her move abroad; and the moment of realisation of the unthinkable, when the loss of a loved one becomes inevitable ,  ‘Her mouth moues/breathless unsound     /        meaningless and true’.

Nigel Kent, Review of ‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da’ by Sue Spiers

Traditionally an Ember Week would mark the summer or winter solstice or the spring or autumn equinox, a time of reflection to celebrate achievements so far and acknowledge plans for the future. Also a time to reconnect with nature and the cycles of the natural world, the balancing of light and dark. Mary Gilliland focuses on the natural world in her poems along with consideration for individual selves – how people relate both to others and the world around them. “Infinitives” starts “To admit the fields are on fire, oil fields,/ though we do not yet see them burning” and urges readers to remember how grandparents worked

“to savor our craving—to satiation;
to be free of litter strewn beyond us
steering through the Hesperides, sacred
groves, Blessèd Isles, past the ghost
of a man on the moon’s new frontier,
our course set for the destitute sunset.”

It harks back to days before consumer excess, when people cared enough to clear up after themselves and reminds readers of why need to care for our world instead of seeking the next new shiny thing.

Emma Lee, “Ember Days” Mary Gilliland (Codhill Press) – Book review

Kim Addonizio
skewers you ab initio.
Her first lines
have tines.

These notes were written to introduce Addonizio to the Finding Poetry book club, at a meeting in which we considered ‘Wild Nights’, a selected poems published by Bloodaxe.

‘Near Heron Lake’ is the second poem at this link: http://www.forpoetry.com/Archive/kaddonizio.htm

I don’t often like the blurb on poetry books, but the blurb on the back cover of ‘Wild Nights’ does a good job, I think, in picking out the most obvious and distinctive qualities in Addonizio’s writing: ‘provocative and edgy’, ‘intense’, ‘gritty’, ‘raw’…. but also, and importantly,  ‘a wild tenderness’.

I discovered Addonizio’s work through her collection ‘Tell Me’, which was recommended by one of my first poetry tutors, Grevel Lindop.  Grevel had a recent (at the time of our book club meeting) essay about Addonizio in an edition of the poetry magazine The North, in which he makes the observation about first lines that my clerihew celebrates.  

Stephen Payne, Finding Kim Addonizio: a reading of ‘Near Heron Lake’

I’d already received Ronna Bloom’s book A Possible Trust when she messaged me to say hey, do you want to do a book exchange? I’ve read, I think, all of Ronna’s poetry already, and this is a selected with an intro by Phil Hall whose work I also love. Her work is what I have down as an “insta-buy.” I don’t need to know anything about it; I know I need it. And I was not wrong about this book either, because it’s such a gift to have so many all-time favourite poems in one place. Banger after banger. This is the book, I can tell already, that I’m going to press into the hands of others the most often in the coming year.

Ronna lives in Toronto, and for a minute I was excited because I’m launching my book in Toronto at the end of the month. As luck would have it, she won’t be there then, but that’s okay, because as I wrote to her, I know that we’re fated to someday meet. I mean, c’mon, Ronna and Shawna….it’s gotta happen! Bloom and Lemay! Amiright??

For now though, we meet through words, and I really think we’re in conversation, especially with our two current books. If you like mine, I would recommend Bloom’s book.

Shawna Lemay, More, more: On Ronna Bloom’s A Possible Trust

I have been a follower of J. I. (Judy) Kleinberg, Bellingham poet, artist, and blogger for a number of years. If you have not already subscribed to her near-daily blog The Poetry Department, you must do so immediately. You’ll find there all sorts of poetry-centric announcements—for readings both local and world-wide, for book and journal recommendations, for great quotes, and more.

Kleinberg posts her own artfully collaged, found poems at her personal blog, Chocolate Is a Verb, and this, too, I recommend.

What a delight to have not one but three collections of poetry by Kleinberg released to the wild in 2023. (I am breathlessly awaiting a full-length collection.)

In The Word for Standing Alone in a Field every poem brings to life a scarecrow—part Dorothy’s Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz; partly an actual scarecrow, hung in a corn field, immobile, abandoned; partly dark witness to the world. I want to write to “the world on fire.” We meet him, and get to know him through the voice of a girl, who seems to me beyond lonely. But, once she has her scarecrow, she becomes his friend and amanuensis, and through her we learn the scarecrow’s secrets, and through him we glimpse her secrets.


I’ve been thinking of Anne Lamott’s line in Bird by Bird recently, where she talks about the writing life not being ‘like you don’t have a choice, because you do—you can either type or kill yourself’. And how much I love that. And (as Lamott would say), how much I hate it, too.

Because I like to persuade myself that that the sofa calling to me with yet another rerun of, say, NCIS (Law and Order is also available) is actually of more universal importance than the line break I have been struggling with, or that (probably doomed) submission to Really Great Poetry Now.

But as we know, Lamott is (always) right. So I went back in the other day, at a time of day when I should really have known better, the better to outwit my inherent laziness. (This is on the advice of another Ann in my life (Sansom), who once told me the best time of day to get any writing done is when your unconscious is at its most open and the resistance (NCIS, etc) is at its most vulnerable. For me this is very early in the morning. Or last thing at night. Or when I am poorly. As you know, having done a fair bit of the latter, last thing at night it was.) And while the results were not exactly Lamott or Sansom level of greatness, something did get done i.e., completed and sent out to Even Better Poetry. And at this grey time of year, after what feels like a month of rain, that feels like something.

Anthony Wilson, On going back in

I watch a lot of YouTube style and thrifting videos, where women bloggers spend a lot of time apologizing or fending off potential attacks about their hair, the detergent they use, what they put on their sandwiches. Which seems silly until you actually look at the comments, and sure enough, they are responding to a sort of watchfulness on the part of other women who somehow like to spend time leaving negativity on other people’s videos. This is especially true in body positive spaces, where many comments seem to say, how dare you?  Have a body and put clothes on it and enjoy them?  You’re supposed to be miserable. Shut the fuck up. 

And then today, a Taylor Swift Grammy’s win and some news of a new album, and my feed is filled with people who are tired of her being so much and so productive and just everywhere now, she should dial it back. To be less. Take up less space. And really it’s the same bullshit. If she seems that nice in real life and is that successful, she must surely be a raging bitch and super problematic, cannibalizing those around her in pursuit of her own glory. She’s surely not successful because she just works really hard. 

Not that I am in any way as famous/successful/rich as TS, but even I’ve felt it in some lit circles, at my old job in the library. That demand that you be less. Write less poems (because how could you be good if you’re prolific), promote yourself less, publish less, take up less space, stop doing extra work that really needs to be done or you’ll make co-workers look bad. Stop stepping on toes or over bodies that haven’t moved in decades.   When I was in my MFA and dared win a contest or start a press or publish a first book (the same things my online writer friends were already doing in spades). But still, who do you think you are? 

Kristy Bowen, just who does she think she is?

While everyone was in Kansas City for AWP, I had the opportunity to escape Seattle’s February gloom for Palm Springs and Palm Desert, thanks to a residency at Desert Rat Residency in Palm Desert. […]

So we drove from Palm Springs into the desert to Shield Farm, which is a huge date and grapefruit farm. Bought dates and grapefruits, plus fresh grapefruit juice and date shakes (a little too sweet for my taste, but kind of cool to try!) Then we checked into the beautiful Desert Rat Residency, started by poet Jeff Walt, in a lovely neighborhood next to fancy restaurants, great shopping, and tons of lush spas and famous golf courses – none of which we got to experience, because we were so focused on how beautiful the residency space was! A fully stocked half-fridge – a soaking tub – a pool – fully stocked bar, tons of eclectic art everywhere you look, so many books and magazines you wouldn’t be able to read them all in a week. Really a dream. Here’s me in the front yard garden. Happy to be there! It was still a little cloudy and chilly the first day there, but Glenn was game to try the pool – about four steps worth! Every morning and evening was full of birdsong. I saw hummingbirds (they have nine species in the desert!) and mockingbirds and hawks, barn swallows, finches – this was just from the front yard! And every morning I woke up and walked by the lemon trees, which have the most amazing smell – not like perfume, not like lemon – just divine. Wish I could capture it! Better than coffee as a wake up perk.

Jeannine Hall Gailey, Palm Springs, Palm Desert: Sun, Cocktails, Art, and a Desert Rat Residency: Part 1

The moon is something that looks
like I could put in my mouth, says the child.

While we talk on the phone, picking
at the remnants of our meal, star
fragments wash up on the beach.

Small bodies shed their tiny houses in the sand,
looking to move into an empty nautilus.

Luisa A. Igloria, Molting

What will we not sacrifice to exert our power? We even sacrifice each other. Seemingly readily. By the tens of, hundreds of thousands.

This idea of “trying to befriend the soil/we must become” moves me. We have done so much damage, we human beings, to the soil, so much poison, plastics, destruction, uprootings, claiming and reclaiming. But that act of kneeling to the ground: in the end, we are it, the soil. It is us. We forget, and remember, forget and remember.

There is no more unruly weed than the human species. No invasive as harmful. Is it our nature? Are we helpless against our own harming? We can’t have it both ways: control everything else, but not ourselves. If we must exert control, let it be against our own worst tendencies toward controlling everything else.

Let’s let things be. A few things, anyway. In our brief lives, their fleeting taste, let’s work on letting, on letting go, on letting be.

Marilyn McCabe, The cost of beauty is partly pain

distant sound of a steel stake
               in failing light
being driven into our earth—

Grant Hackett [no title]

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