Category Archives: On Strong Stems – Poems by moi

The Day in Which My Boy Turns 14 and I Write a Poem on My iPhone

He’s tall like the mountains today.

The wind moves the world
while the sea roils black.
And time, like the tide…
Rolls on.

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The Trophy

My girl…

Tends toward the awkward

and things break in her hands.

 

And when she first learned how to talk

she told me she had wobbly legs.

 

My girl…

Pink hurts her eyes

and dresses are her enemy.

 

And when she has to be fancy

she lets me help her pick out nice pants.

 

My girl…

Hates to give kisses

and only likes hugs from her parents.

 

And her back involuntarily stiffens

if anyone else tries.

 

My girl…

Coon skin cap always on,

she can body slam her big brother.

 

And will probably carry a choice husband home

over her shoulder one day.

 

My girl…

Yanks out her own teeth,

and barely feels a hurt when she flips and breaks a bone.

 

And she pops her knuckles like a fighter

before asking her daddy to pop her toes too.

 

My girl…

Who can take a tender moment and

goof it

spill it

crash it

smash it…

…will take the next

 

and love on her little brother like no one else on this earth

because really, deep down, in her heart…

he’s her baby.

 

And then she’ll take the next one

 

and fold her ten year old hands

to ask God if He would protect her heart…

from ever doubting Him.

 

And then in the next moment after that,

 

she’ll scoop up a baby she just met and hold it and love it and teach it

about this whole big world around us –right there in her lap…

attentive mama hen with a brand-new chick.

 

And then when she’s all done with that moment she’ll go and surprise you again with the next.

 

My girl…

She’ll take that trophy she just won,

that shiny sparkly unexpected joy,

the one she worked so hard for…

and she’ll offer it up, selflessly want to give it away to the one girl on the team…

who didn’t win anything.

 

That’s my girl.

My awkward

bumbling

clumsy

girl.

I wish my legs were wobbly like hers.

 

 

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P is for Poetry and Flags

During poetry instruction at school, I’d roll my eyes and try to catch a quick nap. Rules, boxes, counting, conforming. They all equaled one thing.

B-o-r-r-r-i-n-g.

Now? As a wife? As a mom? As one who has a few more years under her belt than that of my whipper snapper self sitting drowsy in high school English Lit -years that have given me a much deeper appreciation for life and beauty and words and how beautifully they can sound when ya sling em round just right?

Now, -to that gal- poetry r-o-c-k-s.

And while you might not ever see our names in any poetry books, you can bet that here at my house, my kids have heard some good ones and that I make em pound out a poem every now and again. Why? Because of this:

WORDS.ARE.IMPORTANT.

Spoken, sung, whispered, written, you really can’t get much more expressive or moving than a few wisely chosen words. Think I’m exaggerating?

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Let me share a little of our history lesson from today:

“As a rainstorm blew up, Key anxiously strained his eyes for a glimpse of the fort. Was the giant flag still flying? Key pulled a letter from his pocket and began to scribble some words on the back.

‘Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro the perilous fight.

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?’

As the breeze tugged at the paper’s edges, the man continued writing. The words flowed easily.

‘And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof thru’ the night that our flag was still there.

Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?’

(From Sea to Shining Sea for Young Readers, Book 2, pg 96-97)

Upon reading this today, my kids right away picked up on the fact that this, the beloved and cherished song of our country, the one that waters the eyes of millions with its opening notes, didn’t start out as our national anthem.

It started as the heart surge of a young man in a seemingly random moment in history. It started as the simple action of acknowledging the emotions within him and wanting to record them. It started as just a few words scratched out on paper.

Our famous and beloved National Anthem?

It started out as a poem.

Next month is National Poetry month. Use what God gave ya and scratch out a few words of your own. You never know what the stirrings of your heart will bring to another person.

You might just make your wife cry (“You are the flowers in my garden and the sun in my sky”…). You might bring chills and scare the jeebs out of folks for NEVERMORE.

Or you might just bind a people and unite a country.

Poetry isn’t boring. And words…

…words are important.

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If Love was a House

If love was a house,
where would it live?

Would it settle in the kitchen?
Listening and bowing…
food washed tender and chopped with time, nourishment brought from afar…
board games and laughter and milk spilled and cookies baked…
round the table and a family at each meal?

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Would it stake claim in the living room?
Cozy and warm…
snuggles on the couches and stories in forts…
foot rubs and late night movies and popcorn…
lips to hot foreheads and hands bringing ginger ale?

Would it dwell in the playroom?
Loud and giggling…
other worlds being built and workshops noisy…
messes and kingdoms and broken pieces…
creativity and growing in action?

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Or maybe it would choose the big bedroom?
Quiet hush…
stately with moonlight and quilts warm and soft…
romance and laughter, breast milk, jambly stacks of books, throw up and icy little feet…
beauty and refreshment, life and rest?

Or would it pick the front porch?
Sunny spot…
collection site for trash out and loved ones in…
where home meets the world, the going to love those outside…
the coming to gather up the air of here?

porch n boots

Would love settle in the learning rooms?
Pencil places…
where reports get written and bills get paid…
the mundane details that are done by heart…
that keep the train on its tracks?

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Or maybe the bathroom?
Clean and refreshing…
bodies scrubbed and toes counted and teeth tidied…
and parents hide for small vacations and isn’t a toilet scrubbed…
all in a day’s work?

Or would love forsake the rooms and instead choose the walls?
Fingerprints rub…
photos hang, and calendar pages stand sentry waiting to be flipped while masterpieces are scrawled with glee in crayon. Food sticks and holes happen and memories ooze…
…and clinging to the foundation they breathe out and seem to whisper

right here.

Love lives right here.

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Space 22

Children yelling joyfully

as mothers prepare packs for a hike.

Sausage sizzling on our campfire,

sweet aroma twisted

with the musty scent of camp smoke.

Wild roses filling the neck of our beer bottle,

her barbs still lodged in my thumbs.

Quiet, you’ll come back soon

and we’ll have breakfast…

…together.