Among the Trees

Mary Oliver died last week. Some of her poems are among my favorites, and I wanted to share one I love for obvious reasons.

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
– Mary Oliver –

Someday I need to write more extensively about my love of poetry, one of my heart’s joys and in the same category of other sacred pleasures: being immersed in a powerful piece of music; cooking and sharing a delicious meal; savoring a beautiful glass of wine, complex cocktail, or a rich cup of coffee; dancing within an all-encompassing drumbeat; being still and present in an instance of sublime natural beauty; holding heart-to-heart one of my family; and there are others—each one of them a moment of being present and in awe.

Poetry comes close to evoking those moments, of giving language to that which is otherwise ethereal, emotional, sensual, and transcendent.

Words are limited, certainly, but poetry allows them to be…more.

It’s like the TARDIS—a poem is so much bigger on the inside.

Life in a Razor-Shaped City by Scott Woods for TEDx Columbus

I want to share a TEDx talk by my friend Scott Woods, a poet, writer, librarian, activist, and organizer whom I am honored to know.
Scott’s words provoke–they are thoughtful and powerful, complicated and honest. I learn something every time I encounter them…on the page, on the stage, or when I am lucky enough to see him in person.
Scott is both a brilliant creator and a creative catalyst–he makes remarkable things happen. Follow this link to hear why Columbus Alive chose him to be their first ever 2018 Face of Columbus. He’s that good, and his work is that important.

“Boys on Bikes”

Each Fall when the Wheel of the Year turns and the trees begin to change colors, I revisit my routine and once again swear to update my journal with more regularity. It’s been a roller coaster of a year, but I’m hoping to pick up the pace and finish several projects in the next few months…so hopefully, more blogging!

My poem, “Boys on Bikes” was published in Strange Horizons as part of their fund drive! After they reached their first pledge goal of $1500, my poem and Nin Harris’s new poem were both unlocked in the Fund Drive Special Issue, and you can read my poem inspired by the Grimm fairy tale of “The Six Swans” on their website here.

It’s also not too late to support Strange Horizons on Indiegogo! 4 more days!!!

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Edited to add: It’s rare and welcome when a poem gets a review or press online, so a special thanks to Charles Payseur at Quick Sip Reviews for his review of “Boys on Bikes” and the other stories and poems of that Strange Horizons issue.

Payseur writes:

“This is a vaguely strange and rather gutting poem about a woman watching a group of boys ride their bikes through town. She watches, and the impression for me is that this is a moment out of time, relived for her or perhaps she is transported back to a day that she cannot forget, that she cannot escape. Perhaps it’s just a moment in a small town that she never left, that contains the same intersection where these boys met some fate that she never quite spells out. But I love the way the poem weaves this image, this mirage, this haunting. The way that it shows the woman much older, seeing in these boys something of the past, of a childhood that cannot be recaptured. They are the idea of summer, the carefree of being young and invulnerable. Immortal. And yet also so very mortal, as the poem implies. The piece really sells the feeling of being trapped in a moment, unable to look away, knowing that something is going to happen and yet hoping that it won’t. It evokes that moment in E.T. when the boys ride their bikes into the sky, only here it seems much more metaphor, an action that they could not do in life and now, in death, is the best that she can imagine for them. It’s wrenching because it reveals this person who seems to want nothing more than to join those boys, even knowing what happens, even having lived with it for so long. It shows the romantic vision the boys represented, the freedom and the innocence and the danger that was never real until it was, until that shattering moment when it was, and it’s just a hitting and visceral piece that you should definitely check out!”