“I Started Early- Took My Dog-“

If you Google Emily Dickinson and ocean poems, #656 is the first search result you will get. In it, she goes on a walk with her dog to the sea. Although Emily did travel outside of Amherst during a few years of her life, by all accounts, records, and letters left behind, she never actually saw the sea. Emily did have a beloved Newfoundland named Carlo though, presented to her by her father in 1849. Her devoted and constant companion, Carlo would die in 1866 and leave Emily feeling adrift.

Although far from well-traveled and being known for her reclusive nature, Emily’s imagination and knowledge allowed her to go many places in her mind. One Hundred and thirty-two years after the first posthumous publication of her work, we are lucky to go along with her as we read her words and continue to be delighted and mystified by them.

I do live near the sea and go often. It has always been “my place”. The following is what came to me yesterday as I sat with paper and pen and watched the tide come to kiss the shore.

References:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/69411/emily-dickinson-i-started-early-took-my-dog-

https://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/carlo-1849-1866-dog/

https://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/emily-dickinson/poetry/the-poet-at-work/the-posthumous-discovery-of-dickinsons-poems/

“Sweet Hours Have Perished Here”

Today’s first line comes from one of the earliest collections of Emily’s poetry published in 1896, 10 years after Emily’s death, by Mabel Loomis Todd, a family friend and also the mistress of Emily’s brother, Austin. Thomas H. Johnson published the entirety of Dickinson’s poems in 1955 and numbered them according to his judgment of chronology.

The original poem is just four lines and is said to be about her bedroom, where she spent most of her life and where the shadows certainly would have increased as she faced ill health in her last days.

Sweet hours have perished here;

   This is a mighty room;

Within its precincts hopes have played,-

   Now shadows in the tomb.

Emily Dickinson 

J1767

I took the first line and reflected on my childhood, when books and writing were personal havens for me. Long after I should have been, I could almost always be found under the covers writing or between the covers of a book, being whisked off to an imaginary place I was reading about, or coveting some snippet of knowledge I had to sneak to learn. Indeed, it was my happy place and the hours that passed on there were never mourned.

From March- August you can even spend an hour or two in Emily’s own “mighty room”, which has been preserved in the Dickinson family home in Amherst, Massachusetts. Click this link for details. (It’s definitely on my Post-Covid Bucket List!)

https://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/studio-session-request-form/

Wishing You A Happy New Year!

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

– Emily Dickinson

The first stanza of this poem is one that is well known. What I get from this collection of Emily’s words is that Hope doesn’t cost a thing. Granted, the cost of fulfilling those hopes might take more than wishful thinking, but no matter our station in life, we can all afford the miniscule cost of giving another soul hope.

Because it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’ve got other projects calling my name, I’m not going to write my version of Emily’s poem #254 today. I’m going to cross over to my other blog and share my wish for all of you, that as you leave 2021 behind and enter into 2022, you take these words to heart, knowing that you were made for joy.

Peace and Love

“Before the ice is in the pools”

If you search for Emily Dickinson Christmas poems, your search won’t take too long. Number 37 is the only one I have found that mentions it.

Before the ice is in the pools —

Before the skaters go,

Or any cheek at nightfall

Is tarnished by the snow —

Before the fields have finished,

Before the Christmas tree,

Wonder upon wonder

Will arrive to me!

What we touch the hems of

On a summer’s day —

What is only walking

Just a bridge away —

That which sings so — speaks so —

When there’s no one here —

Will the frock I wept in

Answer me to wear?

J#37 Emily Dickinson

https://www.mtpr.org/arts-culture/2017-12-19/poetry-in-baking-emily-dickinsons-black-cake-recipe

I took a different path with the poem, as I always do, and incorporated a little science into mine. If you don’t remember the exact specifics of E,T,C, and P of the water cycle then now would be a good time to refresh your memory.

It’s also the perfect time for me to thank you for reading and following me on this Emily and Carol journey. Wishing you and yours all the very best this holiday season and always.

Peace and Love

“It Troubled Me As Once I Was”

191 years ago today, Emily Dickinson was born. How amazed would she be to know that her words would survive and become such a legacy to the world? As a little girl, she was the first of many poets I would come to admire and treasure, poets that would inspire me and make me marvel at the mystery of it all, as well as the magic created by mere consonants and vowels put together in just the right way to reveal entire astonishing worlds.

As we celebrate her life today, I imagine that being the introvert that she was, like me, she would at times find a celebrated public life tedious.

The first poem I ever memorized was her #600:

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

Emily Dickinson

One of the many ways I relate to Emily is in the comfort found in nature, wherein lies a soothing solace, a buzzing energy, and an all-encompassing mystery that one desires fervently to live in and write about. Emily had her gardens. I have the oceans and the multitudes of life they hold. We have both found inspiration and understanding through the act of writing.

From Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, which Emily attended at 16, she wrote to a friend at home,

“There is a great deal of religious interest here and many are flocking to the ark of safety.”

Emily refused to be part of the flock. For her failure to accept the veneer of things, she was dubbed by the principal of the school to be one of the “No hopers”, the group of girls who were labeled as having no hope of salvation. I would venture to guess that quite a few of my own teachers had me on a similar list.

Maria Popova in The Marginalian writes of Emily Dickinson:

“She was far more interested in the arc of knowledge as science was just beginning to bend its gaze past the horizon of old certitudes. What lay there would come to animate a great many of her spare, stunning poems — poems that illuminate the eternal, the elemental, the inevitable through the pinhole of the surprising. “

Peering through “the pinhole of surprising” or “telling it slant” is something Emily was quite adept at, as in poem #1263 she writes;

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind —

Being the skilled poet that she was, she didn’t seek “define” the truth, which opened the window of understanding and connection to readers who each approach it via different circuits and on their own terms. As an adult, I’ve come to understand that we do not all share the same truths, nor should we be expected to and as writer I hope to accomplish the same thing Emily did in her poems.

From an early age Emily broke with convention, not accepting the traditional role and conventions that women of her time were expected to adhere too. Veering off road like that can sometimes be a painful and solitary trek, something I can personally attest to. But doing so also allows for individuality and maximum growth, which I explore in my alteration of poem #600.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMILY DICKINSON

References

How the World Holds Together: Patti Smith Reads Emily Dickinson’s Poetic Premonition of Particle Physics – The Marginalian

“I Think I Was Enchanted”

Emily Dickinson’s poem #593 is a complex and deep ode to poetry and all that it encompasses. It’s one of those that you have to read numerous times before you even begin to understand all of the mystical references, imagery, and connotations. There are references to nature, witchcraft, another female writer and many metaphors about the light that rises from the darkness. Each time I reread it I get something deeper from it.

My alteration of #593 is much simpler. It’s one of those tales as old as time that I’d guess the majority of us humans have either experienced or can relate to. You know the story, girl meets boy or vice-versa, but one is hiding something. One kind of senses, but doesn’t want to. The whole play eventually comes to an end, and one could regret it or be mad, but it was still such a really good thing, just at the wrong time. I’m sure there’s a country song (or two or twenty), that describe that kind of situation perfectly…

“To Put This World Down Like A Bundle”

Emily Dickinson wrote quite a lot about religion, death, grief and existing outside of the commonly accepted lines of her time. In poem #527 all four of these topics appear as she talks of renouncing the world and references Jesus’ renunciation and consequent agony and crucifixion.

Then, as now, life can be overwhelming and hard and we just need to put the burden bundle down for a bit, close the door on it (or open another). Being on the ocean and especially far from land has always been the salve I need. It’s there that I go off the grid, leave technology behind and imagine myself as one with the sea, powerful, full of wonders, and with endless horizons. I long to be there now, landlocked as I have been by the pandemic woes of this past almost 2 years.

This too shall pass, this I know. And when it does, I will “put this world down like a bundle” for a time and cruise away.

“I Think To Live- May Be A Bliss”

By all accounts Emily was not born an “unhappy child”, but she did go on to experience significant losses that affected her deeply and contributed to the abundant theme of death in her work. In her poem #646 Emily seems to say that there is a lot more joy out there to be had than she has experienced in her self-chosen cloistered life. She hints in the last stanza that a certain unnamed someone may hold the key to making it all Bliss:

How bountiful the Dream—
What Plenty—it would be—
Had all my Life but been Mistake
Just rectified—in Thee

Emily Dickinson

I have known people who never seem to get a break, never find that golden ticket, and spend their whole lives trying to keep their heads above water, choking and almost drowning again and again along the way. They may experience slivers of happiness here and there, but Bliss is a foreign word to them because they just haven’t had the chance to experience it.

I also know that you can seemingly have it all, or what looks like it all, wrapped up beautifully in gold and still not have a life filled with Bliss. (defined as extreme happiness, utter joy). Life is just not like that, as tragedy and loss strike us all.

As our individual paths converge with others, we’d do well to remember that we have no idea what stories, burdens and losses others carry under the skin of their public self. What we do know is that a kindness, a hand or a smile reaching out to them, without a request or expectation back, is a universally appreciated gift.

This morning I went to have blood drawn for my upcoming physical and witnessed a perfect example of someone trying their best to make everyone smile, to bring a little Bliss to each person’s day. The lab tech’s name was Sandra and she had a kind word and or compliment for every person she dealt with. It took little effort, but you could tell that people appreciated her. They thanked her, laughed with her, or like me, wished her a wonderful day before they left. Then they took that little bit of happiness she shared with them and went their own ways, surely smiling under their masks and hopefully inspired to fulfill the butterfly effect and share it with someone else.

We’ve all experienced how one word, one interaction, can ruin a good day. We can’t individually solve everyone’s problems, but we each have the power to help bring a little bit of joy, bliss, or happiness to other’s days. And sometimes that goes a long way towards helping someone believe that life is truly good, prompting them to share that goodness with someone else, and making our world a kinder, gentler place for us all.

“Unto My Books- So Good To Turn-“

In her poem #604, Emily expressed her never waning passion for books. Known for being a homebody and preferring her book shelf and garden to engaging with others, she was a well read woman and like all writers, delighted in reading when she wasn’t writing.

“She was born into a book-loving household and became a voracious reader who read widely.”

Emily Dickinson Museum

“I am glad there are Books. They are better than Heaven, for that is unavoidable, while one may miss these.” 

– Emily Dickinson to F. B. Sanborn, about 1873 (L402)

Books have saved my life a thousand times. They’ve inspired me, challenged me, terrified me, delighted me, comforted me, enlightened me and expanded my understanding of humanity. I’m the girl that will walk straight to your bookshelf and peruse it for clues to who you are. Take me to a bookstore or library and you’ve opened the door to my heart. Don’t expect me to leave very soon though, for like Emily, I think books are better than Heaven.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/10/09/school-of-life-literature-reading/

“Unable Are The Loved To Die”

If we have ever loved a pet or human, we know this to be true. That even after they are gone from this physical realm, they live on in our hearts. If you were to Google quotes about love and life you should be prepared to go down a chasmic rabbit hole, only to emerge weeks later with one great truth- stated a thousand different ways in a myriad of languages, cultures and religions…

“To love and to be loved is the greatest happiness of existence.”

Sydney Smith, in Lady Holland’s Memoir (1855), “Of Friendship”

And if ever there was a poignant pregnant line spoken by a character and lived for too short a time by the actor who played him, it is this one.

“Poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society

In the first line of her poem, Dickinson likened love to immortality and I have done the same with my poem, while exploring the quality of a life without love, or as in Robin Williams’s case, a life so clouded by depression that one is rendered unable to sustain him/herself. We can survive for a time on all the other things, the scraps, like wealth, recognition, applause, etc., but on the table of life the main dish is love and if we don’t get to partake in and share that, no amount of those other things will ever satiate our souls.

“Just So-Jesus Raps”

I for one was extremely curious that Jesus actually was rapping back in the day. Could he have been the Original L L Cool J? Cool J’s real name is James and the LL stands for Ladies Love (Cool James). You know how everyone finds religion in prison? Jesus might have been LL Cool Jesus ( Lawbreakers Love Cool Jesus)!

Come to find out, Emily was writing about the other kind of rapping, Jesus rapping or knocking on a door. She goes on to write about how she begins rapping on the door of her beloved’s heart. In this instance, as in many in which Emily writes of an unnamed love, we can assume that the heart she was referring to was that of her beloved best friend and eventual sister-in-law, Susan Dickinson, to whom she is said to have written and hand delivered this poem.

For my version of #317, I decided to visit current events here in the USA and speak to those who probably don’t want to hear what I have to say, but I’ve never been one to shy away from “Good Trouble”. You’ll have to imagine it spoken by a competent rapper, because that I am not.

In the words of the late great human rights activist Representative John Lewis:

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”

Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America

#317

“Just so- Jesus raps-“

Just so – so you know

I didn’t look like those pics they show.

But oh hell yeah- I did throw

the temple tables of all of those

making money as religion’s hoes.

Religion should help, religion should support.

Keep your right-wing asses out of court.

Get your feet

out on the street

and minister to people who need to eat.

Take your pro-life banner and tear it up.

Put your money where your mouth is and show my love.

For all the foster kids with no homes-

The vets who on your streets do roam-

The women and men working night and day

who still don’t get enough in pay

to have a decent place to live-

You say you love me, so what gives?

Fix these problems before you stick

your pompous nose in the thick-

of a woman’s inalienable right to pick-

what her own body does and doesn’t do.

Really? Who the hell are you?

It’s not your choice.  I’m not your guy.

And if you can’t see the reasons why

I’ve rapped these words,

then your heart is blind.

Love is love. A woman’s body is her own.

Now do my REAL WORK

or shut up and stay home.

(mic drop)

CRR 9-16-21

Picture credit https://www.orthodoxroad.com/the-many-faces-of-jesus/

“A Thought Went Up My Mind Today”

It seems much of what I’ve written lately follows the theme of both random and not so random worrisome thoughts swirling through my mind at inopportune times. Times when I need to clear my head, relax, or sleep peacefully. I could try to assign it to Pandemic Brain, but this phenomenon is not at all unusual for me. I tend to plan in my mind for the worst case scenarios so I will be relieved when anything less than that happens. As a mother, I still irrationally question what part I have in any unfortunate situations my adult child gets into. That mother guilt. Those what ifs. Those if onlys. Those would have, should have, could haves.

In her poem #701, Emily wrote of having a thought reoccur Deja vu-like (my interpretation), but being unable to determine from where it came. I’m sure many of us can relate to both of these instances.

“I Meant To Have But Modest Needs”

The themes of death and prayer come up often in Emily Dickinson’s work. Her #476 recounts praying to God only that she might be content and also go to Heaven. She then experiences a feeling of doubt about the Bible verse ,”Whatsoever you asketh, that shall be given you,” renders herself fooled like a child and moves on. Many of her poems reflect the conflicts and doubts she experienced when it came to committing herself to the organized Christian church. Unlike the rest of her devout family who went to church each Sunday, Emily preferred to keep the Sabbath at home.

According to The Emily Dickinson Museum, “Emily Dickinson lived in an age defined by the struggle to reconcile traditional Christian beliefs with newly emerging scientific concepts, the most influential being Darwinism. Dickinson’s struggles with faith and doubt reflect her society’s diverse perceptions of God, nature, and humankind.”

https://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/emily-dickinson/biography/special-topics/emily-dickinson-and-the-church/

My poem #476 is quite different from Emily’s. It deals with a “first world problem”, the issue of having experienced a higher standard of living and later not feeling inclined to settle for anything less!

“They Ask But Our Delight-“

The collage background I chose for this poem is just a fun little thing I did with leftover scraps from another decoupage project. I delighted in making it, so I guess that’s its connection to today’s poem #868. Emily’s poem was about flowers and all the other “darlings of the soil”. Mine recounts the first 5 things that came to mind as I pondered delight. Perhaps I’ve prompted you to do the same.

“The Future Never Spoke”

My process for writing these Carol and Emily poems is to try NOT to read Emily’s before I write mine. Although I’ve read much of her work at one time or another in the past, for the purposes of this project, I tried to only read the first lines and wrote each one of those on the top of a page in a huge stack of journals. During each writing session, I randomly choose one and flip through it, until I come upon a first line that strikes me, and I go to work on that. After I’ve written my poem, I go back and read Emily’s as well as any analysis of it.

Her work is more often than not, generally associated with the words cryptic, enigmatic and mysterious. Poem #672 is unlike the larger body of Emily Dickinson’s poems, in that it’s more straightforward than most. She rather simply personifies “Future” and explains how it never lets on what is going to happen. I personified Past, Present, and Future in mine, as I waxed poetic about the evolution of time as it affects humankind in a myriad of ways. Hope you can relate and enjoy!

“I Had Been Hungry All The Years”

It is widely accepted that in poem #579 Emily uses food and hunger as metaphors for life. As humans we hunger for much more than food, and certainly Emily felt those same hungers. We find and try things, people, jobs, and places we think we want and later find them not to be the case. At times we can’t identify the thing that would gratify the hunger we feel, but we know what the emptiness of its absence feels like.

My journey to satiate that unidentified want ended in 2003 when I met my best friend and love in the face of a man I never would have chosen before. He wasn’t an outlaw, a (public) bad boy, or a rebel. He was everything I never knew I wanted and everything I had always needed to compliment the person I am. I literally saw myself sparkling in his azure eyes and the rest is 18 beautiful years of history. He’s my third and last husband and he loves and puts up with all of me, (even when I flip him a bird). This one’s for him. ❤

“We See Comparatively”

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” Anais Nin

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” John Lubbock

The two quotes above illustrate the same idea that Emily proposed in poem #534, that we see things through our personal lenses of likeness and contrast. Not unlike now, but certainly more during her time, the opportunity to travel far was limited to those wealthy enough to do so. Today we have the whole world at our fingertips, literally, through our devices. If unable to travel, we can virtually experience a trip anywhere around the planet to view the many wonders of people, places and lifestyles foreign to us. No matter how we connect with others, we still perceive them through the lens of who we are. I wrote this because I think we all (including me) need to be reminded of that fact, and to appreciate the differences that exist in our human family without comparing them to ourselves.

“Why Should We Hurry- Why Indeed?”

Unless you’re new to Emily Dickinson, you know that Death was never far away in her thoughts and poetry. In #1646 she speaks of being “molested by immortality” and seems to say that we’re being tricked into thinking it will all last, when nothing actually will, because everything ends, so why hurry ourselves to that dark night.

The case against hurrying is not new. The irony is that we’ve been telling ourselves to slow down since the invention of everything humans have designed to help us do more faster. The reality is that we miss so much when we hurry. Most of all we miss the opportunity for genuine connection with others, nature, and our own inner selves. And the ramifications of all of that? Staggering, massive, and negatively consequential. So let’s take a moment whenever we can and focus on living our lives a little slower, because being more mindful can only make things better for all of us.

“In Falling Timbers Buried”

Some say Emily Dickinson had a morbid fascination with death. Others see the fact that approximately 1/6th of all her poems and letters were about death as something not unusual for one who lived next to a cemetery and during a time when folks died of illnesses at a much younger age than we do today. Her poem #614 speaks of diggers attempting to find a man buried in rubble. Too late, the saving grace is Death, in that he is no longer suffering.

I saw the setting of the first line of #614 as a place where dreams die, aspirations are quashed and we sometimes don’t even understand that we have made ourselves prisoners. I imagined a frolic of mythical forest fairies engaging in a battle with death, attempting to coax it into and ward it off with their fairy ring of mushrooms, a place of legendary doom for non-fairy folk.

In researching fairy rings, I learned quite a bit and will definitely be on the lookout for them in the future. If there’s a full moon and you see me running around one nine times, from east to west (the direction of the sun), it will be in hopes of hearing the fairies dancing and frolicking underground. Please just watch from afar and don’t make me lose count, for legend has it if I run around a tenth time I will meet ill fate and be made to run to the point of exhaustion and death and/or perhaps become invisible.

References

Emily Dickinson and Death – Emily Dickinson Museum

MCNAUGHTON, RUTH FLANDERS. “Emily Dickinson on Death.” Prairie Schooner, vol. 23, no. 2, 1949, pp. 203–214. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40624107. Accessed 22 July 2021.

Do you dare enter a fairy ring? The mythical mushroom portals of the supernatural | Ancient Origins (ancient-origins.net)

Magical Fairy Rings: The Science and Folklore (mushroom-appreciation.com)

the prowling Bee: In falling Timbers buried — (bloggingdickinson.blogspot.com)

Fairy ring – Wikipedia

“They Shut Me Up in Prose”

According to some scholars, Dickinson’s poem #613 is quite the exercise in feminism. In it, she masterfully uses the imagery of a captive bird and speaks in a defiant voice about the struggles of being a female, expected to be silent and kept locked up by societal expectations of the mid 1800’s.

Although she never engaged in any public romantic relationships, researchers have long questioned the many cryptic references to “loves” in her poetry and posed questions about her private life and potential relationships with several men and also with her sister-in-law, Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson. In my version of this poem I imagine the coded language she used to send messages that would not be deemed appropriate during her time. Over a century and a half later, fans of her work are still looking for the meanings between her lines.

Note on “fascicles:

*During Dickinson’s intense writing period (1858-1864), she copied more than 800 of her poems into small booklets, forty in all, now called “fascicles.” She made the small volumes herself from folded sheets of paper that she stacked and then bound by stabbing two holes on the left side of the paper and tying the stacked sheets with string. She shared these with no one. They were discovered by her sister Lavinia after Emily’s death.

References

They shut me up in Prose (F445A, J613) – White Heat (dartmouth.edu)

1855-1865: The Writing Years – Emily Dickinson Museum

“I Rose Because He Sank”

The kindness of strangers, the devotion of one who loves or simply cares. Emily most certainly knew and exercised both herself, as have you and I. Unable to sleep any later this morning, I rose early and flipped through my catalog of first lines and chose this one. I immediately thought of all of the times others have gifted me with exactly what I was unknowingly in need of and also of those times when strangers or kind hearts have seen an obvious need and spontaneously reached out to take my hand, light my way or lighten my load. Their kindnesses served to increase the want in me to do the same.

A moment in time that would register insignificant in the chronicles of world history could be a catalyst, a lifeboat, or a key to a long locked door. We often have no idea or at least not the full extent of the impact of a small act of kindness. That’s the key to it all though, to the world being a gentler place. If we are living and breathing, if we have eyes to see or ears to detect a need, we have it in us to inspire, to educate, and to influence and affect others in a positive way. May we all rise to the occasion.

“I Could Not Prove The Years Have Feet”

Unlike me, Emily Dickinson never married, nor had children. She wrote poem 563 about time marching on and goals for her own personal growth. Today seems quite an appropriate time for me to post my version of this poem. My eldest child turns 39 today and the years have literally felt like they’ve had not just feet, but wings! The saying ” the days are long but the years are short” truly applies when it comes to raising kids. As I reflect on this day, I’m once again awed by the wonder and the miracle of birth. It’s something you never forget, no matter how many years have passed. And then there’s the bearing witness to their becoming, watching them turn into the people they were born to be while preparing them to grow confident and able to fully function without you. Each stage, with its joys and struggles teaches you something you didn’t know before you became a parent. It’s certainly true that we are their first teachers, but we learn so much from our children. ❤

Long Time, No See

Hopefully there were a few of you wondering whether or not I completely gave up on this project. The answer is No! I was simply living the life of a writer, which sometimes boils down to write, self doubt, crumble and toss, write, self doubt, crumble and toss, pick up the pen and get distracted, pick it up again and decide to work on another project and well, you get the idea. So today I was inspired, by anger, but hey, whatever works as inspiration! Emily certainly must have had days when she experienced the same. I imagine all writers/creatives do.

So today you get not 1, but 3 poems! Hope you enjoy!

Your Youness

Yesterday I actually went in a few shops! After almost 15 pandemic months of staying out of most indoor public spaces, what use to be an ordinary act contained all the excitement of a winning lotto ticket coupled with the enjoyment of a yummy ice cream cone. My friend and I oohed and ahhed at all the cute little shops and lovely things we happened upon, enjoyed a scrumptious lunch and just had a really nice day. I fell in love with several unique papercraft pieces and came home and began working on my own flamingo. (pictured below)

Poetry is very subjective. Some believe poem #480 speaks about Dickinson’s love of God and others believe she is referencing her untold love for a man/woman. In both cases, the answer to the question asked in the first line -“Why do I love you Sir?” , is simply “because”. While acknowledging that love resists reason and logic, the narrator loves because it could not possibly be any other way. Today’s Carol and Emily poem speaks to being attracted to one who stands tall and proud in their “youness”, one not deterred by bullies, nor afraid to embrace their individuality.

I know I’m not always able to be that person, that unflappable flamingo. I’m a work in progress and the challenge to embrace my uniqueness, flaws, weaknesses and eccentricities is ongoing. May we all help each other find that path.

References

Emily Dickinson’s Love Life – Emily Dickinson Museum

“The Manner of Its Death”

I’m back after taking a little break to delve into my other creative projects! I wrote this poem just this morning as memories of my 4 year old daughter skipped through my brain. In her poem, Emily spoke on one her favorite subjects, death. She seemed to be saying that one should be able to choose their manner of death, much as she chose her burial attire and the manner in which she wanted her own death to be recognized.

When she ventured outside her Amherst home, Emily explored as an avid naturalist, and spent much time surveying, cataloguing and appreciating the wide variety of life forms. As a mother of two young children, I sought to get them outside as much as possible and to let them learn from and experience all the wonders of the natural world. On one particular trek through the woods in back of our North Carolina mountain home, my 4 year old daughter came upon a tiny fallen bird, unmoving and sadly dead. This poem is about how she reacted.

The next morning we arrived at the doorway to her Montessori preschool and she presented the Directress with the shoebox containing her discovery. As all good teachers do, during morning circle she used it as a teaching moment, as the littles solemnly passed the box around and they talked about what might have happened to the tiny bird. A simple playground burial followed, with the preschoolers expressing their genuine and heartfelt care for the tiny creature. Life is beautiful and poignant, gentle and harsh. May we all be as bold as preschoolers in expressing that same kind of genuine and heartfelt care for each other.

“The Moon Is Distant From the Sea”

Very distant indeed. It’s an average of 238,855 miles from Earth. And yet, its gravitational pull makes it a mighty force. Orbiting Earth approximately every 27.3 days, it is the second brightest object in the sky, reflecting the light of our brightest, the Sun. Some analysts see poem #429 as a metaphor for Emily’s obedience to God and others see her likening the sea’s obedience to the moon to reversing women’s customary obedience to men. Given our shared aversions to joining the organized church, and to being told what to do by anyone, I lean toward the later interpretation.

As an elementary teacher, I loved to incorporate poetry into not just my language arts instruction, but into the other subjects I taught as well. One year my 3rd graders studied and memorized Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”. Another year I orchestrated a spoken word play of Paul Fleischman’s Joyful Noise, Poems For Two Voices, a delightful book of poems about all types of insects. When lesson planning, I often sought out poems about Math, Science and Social Studies and found them to be very effective tools for teaching all sorts of concepts.

Today’s Carol and Emily Project poem is a short and sweet poem illustrating the moon’s tidal force.

Tim and I

In researching Emily’s poem #196, I learned that the “Tim” in her poetry is thought to have been an alter-ego of hers. Recognizing as she did, the inequities that existed between girls and boys/males and females during her time, she was often outspoken about them in her home. In public she wasn’t perceived as boyish, but inside her home, by her own family, her behavior was often likened to that of a “rascal boy”. Beginning in 1862 she wrote quite a few poems in a masculine voice.

My Carol and Emily poem #196 is dedicated to a dear friend of mine named Tim, whose physical body left this world far too soon. His spirit still lives on, in his children, grandchildren, family and friends, and precious memories of a really good guy live on in my heart. We miss you Tim ❤

The last time we were together, he took me to see some land he wanted to buy and shared his dream of starting an airboat business, taking tourists for rides on the St. John’s River and through the swamps and marshes of its estuaries. Although that dream was never realized, I can see him with that pirate smile on his face, doing that and thriving, something he spent many post-Vietnam years attempting to do.

Art by R. L. Lewis

References

Patterson, Rebecca. “Emily Dickinson’s ‘Double’ Tim: Masculine Identification.” American Imago, vol. 28, no. 4, 1971, pp. 330–362. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/26302664. Accessed 25 Apr. 2021.

The Portrait

Emily must have written poem #188 while she was dreaming of sunshine and warmer days from her chilly bedroom in Amherst, Massachusetts. She seems to opt for skipping Fall and Winter altogether and staying warm while enjoying the life abundant in Spring and Summer. Here in my corner of the world, there’s usually no lack of warmth or sun, so on this beautiful April morning I breakfasted on my lanai and imagined this scene and the romance of discovering that you are considered someone’s sun.

Happy Saturday from Emily and I. May you enjoy and feel both the warmth of someone’s love and the Sun’s warmth, with plenty of sunscreen of course!

Seafoam Memories

Certain places hold sensory and muscle memories, and bring special moments back to mind. The shore and ocean do that for me. As the tides move in and out twice each day, they bring forth and take away, reminding us that life does the same. Today, the first line of Emily’s poem #86 and the South winds blew the briny air and sent seafoam and memories of a past love, dancing across the sand and through my mind.

I Had An Idea

Like Julie and Julia. (2009 Nora Ephron). Sort of. You know, the movie, where the girl in the tiny New York apartment took a year and made it her mission to recreate each one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.

Julie Powell actually started the Julie/Julia project on her blog and garnered the attention of quite a few followers, including those who offered her a book deal at Little, Brown and Company. Julia Child was reportedly unimpressed and said as much, although I think that was a little hoity-toity of her. The book led to the movie and the rest, as they say, is history.

But get to the point Carol. Your idea?

One of my first poet loves was Emily Dickinson and the very first poem I memorized was:

Im nobody.

Who are you?

Are you nobody too?

Then there’s a pair of us- don’t tell!

They’d banish us you know.

How dreary to be somebody!

How public, like a frog .

To tell your name the lifelong day

To an admiring bog!”

At 10, just as now, this particular poem seemed perfectly suited for my introverted self.

Being an admirer of Emily’s work, I thought an interesting project would be to attempt a Carol/Emily project, wherein I take the title of each of her poems and write my own, on small pieces of paper and used envelopes, just as she did. And then I remembered that Emily herself titled only a few of her 1775 poems, the others were added posthumously by editors. So much for that idea.

But what about first lines? That could be quite a challenge, given the formality of language during the 1800s, not to mention the colloquialisms of her time. But could it be a thing? I mean Dickinson on Apple TV is certainly a huge thing. I’ve binged both seasons and am suffering in wait for more.

So here we go. I mean, here I go.

New year, new challenge and all that. 1775 poems. Stay tuned. I’m sure some of it will be less than spectacular, but who knows until I try.

Emily herself said:

“Success is counted sweetest

By those who ne’er succeed

To comprehend a nectar

Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host

Who took the Flag today

Can tell the definition

So clear, of victory,

As he, defeated – dying –

On whose forbidden ear

The distant strains of triumph

Break, agonized and clear.”

Click the arrow at the top right of this page and a pull down will appear so you can subscribe if you’d like to follow along and wish me luck!

Click the arrow below to read past posts or check out the archives by clicking on the arrow top right and then looking to the left.

Herstory

Emily Dickinson lived and wrote in a society that cordoned women into one very traditional role, that of housewife, mother and helpmate to her husband. She rebelled against this tradition by simply doing her own thing and using her words to exercise her will. The majority of those words would go unpublished until after her death, when she would posthumously be recognized as one of the world’s greatest poets. She would not live to see white women be given the right to vote in 1920, but she did live through the years during which the suffrage movement developed and the NWSA, National Women’s Suffrage Movement was formed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in 1869,when they formally requested that women be granted suffrage and the right to be heard on the floor of Congress. Although not a voice for political change within her lifetime, scholars have noted that her words included many nods to feminism, along with the fact that her own life and the style in which she wrote was a rebellion against the status-quo of her times.

Slate.com answered the question, “Is History written by men about men?”, in their 2015 study of 614 History trade books published during that year. The answer was yes. 75.7 percent of the books they surveyed were written by males and 71.7 percent of the biographies were about male subjects. Only during my own lifetime have the contributions of women begun to be recognized and long overdue credit given. So yes, we have more female voices being heard today and we even have the first female Vice President, but when 172 Republican members of our Congressional House voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act on Wednesday, we know that there is still much work to be done in the area of equality. There are still many battles to be fought, many women’s previously and currently silenced voices to be heard, and many new chapters to be penned in the Herstory of our country and our world.

My Carol and Emily poem is a plea for us all to read, learn and teach the next generation both the Herstory and the History of our world and to rally against injustice in any form.

References

Letter to Congress from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Others in Support of Women’s Suffrage | DocsTeach

“Feminism of Emily Dickinson.” ukessays.com. 11 2018. UKEssays. 03 2021 https://www.ukessays.com/essays/english-literature/feminism-of-emily-dickinson.php?vref=1.

House votes to reauthorize landmark Violenace Against Women Act – The Washington Post

emilydickinsonmuseum.org

Pots of Gold

I’ll just say it right off. The “artwork” for today’s poem is clearly lacking, so much so, that I hesitated to share this one. I realize I didn’t hit the jackpot in terms of my creativity when it comes to making art, but I still try to give it my best shot. Apparently, on February 10th when I penned it, this was my best. LOL! Anyway, since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it timely to share.

When I was still working on my degree and my children were little, I wrote a story for the Children’s Lit class I was taking. In my story, a family notices a rainbow in the sky after a rain. The children question whether they can all go out and follow it, to find the end and the pot of gold. The mom and dad agree and off they go on a fun adventure to follow the rainbow to its end. As the story wraps up, they find themselves in the middle of their own back yard, where together they realize that “they” are the pot of gold they’d been searching for. And how true that is! Our loved ones are own personal pots of gold that no amount of money or gold could replace.

Today’s Carol and Emily poem is a simple one of hope and belief, that in the appearance of a beautiful rainbow, lies proof that life is good and many wonderful things are still to come.

Who Knew Bees Could Get Drunk?

I didn’t. It’s something I never considered , because why would you? But indeed, bees can get drunk on fermented nectar. A drunk bee acts much the same as a drunk person, dazed, confused and unable to fly. Arrests for Public drunkenness were often reported in the newspapers during Emily Dickinson’s time, but there is no documentation of Emily partaking in the drinking of alcohol. Rather her words tell us again and again that she gets intoxicated by nature. I can definitely relate. I often find myself taken aback, delightfully stunned, my whole soul brandy soaked in the beauty, natural wonders and marvels of our world.

The quote “Write drunk, edit sober” has been misattributed to Ernest Hemingway but according to Quote Investigator, there seems to be no evidence that he ever said that. Hemingway was known to drink often, but he wrote in the mornings and did not drink until the afternoon. Speaking of drinking, for today’s Carol and Emily poem, I had to look up the word “quaffing”. The Oxford Dictionary tell us that it means “drink (something, especially an alcoholic drink) heartily.” Not unlike Hemingway, I have been known to drink heartily from time to time, but definitely not when writing. It doesn’t work for the bee, who can’t find her way back to her nest or is rejected by the other bees if she does, and it doesn’t bode well for me if I want to make any sense.

Maybe like me, you learned something new today. With Spring just 4 days away, perhaps like me, you plan on going outside and getting intoxicated by nature. Until next time…

References:

Drunk bees? | Can bees really get drunk? | Perth Honey Company

Write Drunk, Revise Sober – Quote Investigator

A Slant Of Light

Light carries so much symbolism, with our greatest source of it, the Sun, being one of the two things that all of life on our planet depends on. It illuminates and nourishes and without it, from plants to humans, life would quickly die off. In Emily’s poem, she used multiple literary devices and has the unknown speaker addressing the themes of despair, religion, nature, truth and transformation, all emanating from a certain slant of light streaming in or through. My poem is definitely less ambiguous and uncomplicated. It’s a nostalgic poem that I wrote by traveling in my mind back more than half a century. Well, that makes me sound ancient, doesn’t it! LOL

I have the fondest memories of sleeping in the attic bedroom at my maternal grandparent’s home in Virginia. Growing up, I spent most weekends and school vacations there. Beginning in 1946, my mother and her 3 sisters shared that room from the time the youngest was 2 until each one of them got married. I was born into that house and spent the first 22 months of my life there. Filled with memories, both literally and figuratively, it was a sweet haven that brought me lots of joy.

I’ve lived in a lot of places since then, (and I do mean a lot- 34 houses/apartments in my lifetime) but that house, my first home, I can still see it today in amazing Kodachrome detail. The smells, the sounds, the tastes, all like it was yesterday in my mind. The black and white parquet kitchen floor and the red table, where everything served tasted like love. The exact way the screen door sounded whenever anyone came in or went out. The white muslin cloth that was draped over the butter, sugar bowl and condiments that stayed there in between meals. Grandma standing by the woodstove, cooking Chicken Pot Pie or venison she or Pappy had hunted. Swinging on the porch swing with my Aunt Lou. Playing on Pappy’s car lift or rolling around on the garage creeper. Getting happy dirty and washing my hands in the garage sink with Gojo. Feeling safe and loved under Grandma’s quilts in the cozy attic bedroom my own mother grew up in. Being proud when I was finally big enough to go to the hen house by myself and get the eggs for breakfast. Digging potatoes in the garden and being sent down to the earthy cool root cellar for vegetables, pickles or sauces that had been canned and put up for the winter. Snapping beans, making butter, and enjoying a cool slice of sweet watermelon or hand churned ice cream outside on a hot summer day. Although my grandparents are both gone now and the house looked nothing like it used to when I drove by it 10 years ago, until their deaths it was the one place on Earth that stayed constant in my life, when it seemed like almost nothing else did. It always felt like my true home.

Perhaps this brought back some of your own memories of growing up. Hopefully you all have a place like this that you remember fondly.

References

https://www.litcharts.com/poetry/emily-dickinson/there-s-a-certain-slant-of-light

One Life

I commented about self-censoring on another poet’s post today. He had admitted being hesitant to hit the publish button on a certain post of his. We writers engage in a lot of self talk, especially when the subject matter we take on is sensitive, political, controversial, etc., etc. There’s the innate need for us to create the work, to write the words, to say the things, and then there’s the need for an audience, if we actually choose to publish our work. And the audience is a huge gamble we have to be willing to take.

Dear Readers, I have to admit that I am not a Dickinson scholar, although that is now one of my goals, and something I’m working at daily. When I choose a first line of hers to use as a prompt, my process is that I write my poem and then go back and research analyses of hers, to perhaps see how my poem’s theme relates to the body of her work. The question for this poem was “Did Emily ever address current events?” The answer, like her work is elliptical and cloaked.

Emily Dickinson was most prolific during the years of the Civil War. Scholars have deemed a small group of her poems, “War Poems”. But unlike the other “Titan of American Poetry” – Walt Whitman, she told her war stories “slant”, working around the truth, and indirectly leading you to the center of it, gradually. That’s not what I did with this poem though.

My take on #270 is very timely, as the jury selection is presently occurring in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd. “One life of so much consequence” could absolutely have been written in another vein, about Derek Chauvin. I had a conversation with myself about posting it here. But as I wrote this poem, I was also reminded about how each one of us is a “life of so much consequence”. We touch so many others every day. The Butterfly Effects of our words and our actions are often monumental and far reaching, through generations and miles. We would do well to remember that.

References –
Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and the War That Changed Poetry, Forever | At the Smithsonian | Smithsonian Magazine

Boston Globe

Teach Them

Today’s share is short and sweet. It’s a poem about teaching children the interdependence of all life on Earth. As we teach them the names of living things, we are hopefully teaching them about our relationship to them, theirs to each other, and the unique place each occupies in the web of life. As the renowned Italian Educator Maria Montessori taught, each living thing has a “cosmic task”, a reason for being. When we fully understand that, we can be the caretakers that we are called to be, of the environment and all of its inhabitants.

And yes, the answer is always love. ❤

Sweeping With Many Colored Brooms

Although she isn’t here to verify it, if you Google poem 219, every analysis points to Emily Dickinson describing a sweeping multicolored sunset and referring to it as a housewife. She began the poem with a figurative first line. I took the opposite approach and quite literally made it a simple and sweet poem, about a woman, going about her daily chores with colored objects that remind her of a loved one, lost long ago. The different colors of the brooms remind her of specific things about their life together. A life that existed in the past, but one that she remembers fondly.

We all have objects, places, songs, as well as colors, scents and foods that remind us of someone we loved. Just seeing, hearing, or tasting them brings the moments we shared with them back to life in our minds. In today’s Carol and Emily poem, I was reminded of the fact that there is dignity in all work, and that we can choose to do even the most mundane tasks with utmost effort, pride and joy, focusing on whatever it is that makes us whistle while we work and bid that dust and dirt goodbye.

I Stole Them From A Bee

According to the Emily Dickinson Archive, there are 280 instances of bees in poems written by her. There is plenty of analysis out there regarding her personification of bees and flowers etc. and how it speaks of gender conventions, religion and eroticism, but that’s not what this blog is about. It’s widely accepted that she loved nature and spent quite a lot of time by herself in it, thus why so many of her poems contain references to the natural world. Emily no doubt knew of the bee’s importance in contributing to biodiversity, creating a food source, and as pollinators facilitating wild plant growth. Bees are also said to pollinate one-third of the global food supply, more than 90 different agricultural crops.

Like Emily, I find great beauty and solace in nature. It has many valuable lessons and secrets to teach us if we take the time to observe the cycles, habits, and behaviors of other living things. One might surmise that Emily preferred the natural world over human beings, especially toward the end of her life when she became more reclusive. I submit that she sincerely appreciated the contributions of the natural world to the beauty of our planet and took the time to write about it.

  • References- Emily Dickinson Archive
  • Eating Well Magazine, Mar.2021

On Kindness

This photo came up as a serendipitous Facebook memory this morning. Serendipitous because I just finished a poem about kindness yesterday, with the intent of posting it today. This “Be Kind” pendant is one of the few relics I have from my teenage years. Three years ago I found it in a box of memories. Although it’s nearly 50 years old, its message is timeless. I remember buying it at The Infinite Mushroom, a really cool head shop in Orlando in the early 70s. It was where every teen went to get their black light posters, ultra-cool clothes/accessories, and of course the other things that made it a “head shop”.

Emily often sent poems as part of her letters or accompanying them, to family, friends and acquaintances. She wrote the first line of this poem in a letter to Samuel Bowles in August of 1858. Bowles was the Editor-In-Chief of the Springfield Republican newspaper. Over the years he became Emily’s confidant and would receive 40 poems in letters from her, but publish none of them. Seven of her poems were published in his paper during her lifetime, but the specifics of how they came to be published remain unknown. 

Despite all the goodness and good people that are out there making the world a kinder place every day, today’s Carol and Emily poem recognizes the still ever present need for a “Kindness Revolution”. Because you can never have too much kindness or spread too much love.

References  emilydickinsonmuseum.org

Emily’s Rose

An avid observer, Emily Dickinson began showing an interest in botany when she was 9 years old. She loved to help her mother in the family garden, which contained quite an extensive variety of flowers. When she went away to school at Mt. Holyoke, she was encouraged by the principal and founder of the school to create an herbarium. Emily went on to collect, press and classify 424 flowers from the Amherst region. The leather bound album she pressed and posted them in survived and has been digitized by Houghton Library at Harvard University. You can access it here Harvard Mirador Viewer. You can also tour the Homestead gardens at Dickinson’s family home in Amherst, MA. Although I haven’t yet been, it’s definitely on my “post Covid – when we can finally travel safely again” list of places to visit.

Emily often sent flowers with her letters to friends and family and gifted them on birthdays and occasion of deaths and illnesses. A large number of her poems contain references to them. According to Judith Farr, author of The Gardens of Emily Dickinson, one-third of Dickinson’s poems and half of her letters mention flowers, with the rose taking first place for most mentions. Pictured below is a page from Emily’s Herbarium and today’s Carol and Emily poem, which tells of one particular rosebush that she kept as a secret for herself and the bees.

Memories of Travel

While it’s true that Emily Dickinson is known as a recluse who hardly ever left her parent’s home in Amherst, Massachusetts, she did in fact have several occasions to travel during her lifetime. *At 17, she was enrolled in Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, Massachusetts, spending a year there. Although she professed in letters to love the entire experience, her longing for home was greater. With her father being a Senator in the Whig party, in 1855, when she was 25, she and her sister Lavinia had the opportunity to visit Washington, DC and Philadelphia. Beyond those two trips, it’s believed that Emily never ventured out into the larger world and is said to have been quite content with her life in Amherst, where she never seemed to run out of inspiration.

Fast forward 166 years and that’s pretty close to how long it feels like it’s been since the pandemic brought our travel plans to a halt. Travel is “our thing”. My husband and I love to travel to new places and experience new cultures, foods, and vistas. I retired from teaching in June of 2019 and in the 9 months before the pandemic hit , we were lucky enough to take 3 trips and visit 10 different countries. It literally feels like eons ago, but the memories remain. The sights, smells and sounds live on forever in our minds, like those of our honeymoon 15 years ago in Hawaii, where the air is truly rare. Today’s Carol and Emily project remembers that.

*Information for this post gathered from A Timeline of Emily Dickinson’s Life and Legacy – Emily Dickinson Museum

Imposter Syndrome?

It’s said that before her death, Emily Dickinson made her sister Lavinia promise to burn all her poems and letters. While she did burn some of her letters, Lavinia broke the promise and chose not to destroy the almost 1800 poems that she discovered. How lucky we are that she made that choice and went on with the help of others to see that they were published. Dickinson biographers agree that Emily made very few efforts to be published before her death. After being told that her style was untraditional of the time and just didn’t fit, she may have been discouraged, but even if that were true, it certainly didn’t stop her from writing prolifically.

Could she have had “imposter syndrome”? That evil green eyed monster of a virus that attacks our confidence and tells us that we aren’t good enough at whatever it is that we want to do? I had a serious bout with that this morning as I was trying to choose which Carol and Emily poem to share on today’s post. I probably read 20 different poems and found something wrong with every one of them, even the one I posted below. I know I’m my own harshest critic and the battle not to be is constant and real.

Above my desk , I keep the card I received with my award certificate from the Story Summit last year. It has 4 all important words on it. “You are a writer!” It’s there to remind me on days like this, when I doubt myself, that I really am.

No matter what field or life stage you’re in, the imposter syndrome can slither its way into your brain. The trick is to surround yourself with encouragers and encouragements in whatever form works for you. Emily apparently had few encouragers, but we have to believe that she found encouragements and inspiration everywhere in the rich microcosm of her secluded life. Her 1775 poems tell us that.

Future Spawn

A year ago today, I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in the first annual Story Summit upon a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. We sailed to the Caribbean for an immersive 5 day mentoring experience with some of the worlds most talented authors, screenwriters, and industry professionals. One week later the world would stop due to COVID-19, but the relationships begun on that trip would not stop. Books would be published, screenplays optioned, and the support and encouragement for all of the participants would continue. I count it as the absolute best thing that happened in 2020.

Since that time, another (COVID safe) summit was held at Cape Cod and a Writer’s School was developed with a wide array of classes and phenomenal teachers. Tonight we’re celebrating our 1st birthday by getting together via Zoom to reminisce, catch up and celebrate the Story Summit and all the learning, joy, success and camaraderie it has brought us.

Today’s Carol and Emily poem speaks of sailed toward dreams and that’s exactly what we were all doing on that cruise, working on our projects and trying to create our own individual future spawns.

Of course no one is cruising now, but whatever your dreams are, I hope you’re sailing (figuratively) towards them.

Artwork -R. L. Lewis

Not Anyone’s Spiritless Girl

Emily Dickinson, known by most as only a reclusive eccentric, lived life her own way, just as everyone should. By all accounts, and as her poetry reveals, she was the farthest possible thing from spiritless. Not only did she defy the traditional role of women during her time, but she wrote poetry in her own unique style and by her own rules. Today’s offering speaks for both of us.

Perseverance

No, I’m not referring to the famed Mars rover that just touched down yesterday after a more than 6 month journey. But how amazing is that? I’m talking about the fact that Emily Dickinson continued to prolifically write, even in the face of no real encouragement from her parents or those in the publishing world at the time. Only 7 of her poems were published during her lifetime, but writing was a passion she could not let die, a flower she continued to nurture, a hunger unabated.

I can be really hard on myself at times for not meeting goals I’ve set. Like on this project, where my goal is 5 poems a day and I’m dreadfully behind. But I am pretty proud of the fact that I’ve continued to write publicly for the past 11 years. I have persevered, even when my stats or followers didn’t sky rocket. I’ve been honest about times when the words wouldn’t come, but I’ve never given in to thinking it wasn’t worth it. Even if no one ever read my words, like Emily, I still need to write them.

When I taught 6th grade, I constantly encouraged kids to persevere in the face of difficulty, telling them that quitting was the only way to fail. Like the NASA engineers who had to wait 6 months to see if they would be successful in landing the rover on Mars, we may not immediately know the full impact our words, our art or our work, but we only fail if we stop doing it. So hang in there. I’m rooting for you, and I hope you are for me too.

Here’s today’s offering, which includes a reference to Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle.

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It’s Either The Guinea or Me

Today has just been one of those days. Because I’m trying to “branch out ” and be more creative, I dug out some watercolor colored pencils that I’m not even sure why I have. I’ve never used them before, but they’ve clearly been used at least once so that’s a mystery. I figured if W (former President George W. Bush) could take up painting portraits in his 60s, then I could attempt to paint some simple blue flowers in a grassy green field to accompany mine and Emily’s poem about gentian flowers. I was right! I could attempt it, but my effort would ultimately end up in the trash can. No biggie, none of us can be immediately proficient at everything they try. I’m probably just in need of some quality instruction. I’ll search on You Tube later.

I fumbled around with my scrapbook supplies and finished 3 more project pages before I hit the proverbial wall. Of nothingness. Took a walk, got the blood moving, and still nothing. Got distracted by social media, pulled myself back to business and reworked some poems for another project. I got 3 of 4 poems scheduled for posting on that blog, but for some reason, everytime I tried to preview this one certain poem titled “Words”, the preview would only show the title. It happened again and again despite page refreshes and computer reboots. Any other poem of mine would work, just not that one. So weird. I finally just gave up, turned on a Netflix show, got sleepy and took a nap.

Now, naps aren’t usually my thing because I never seem to wake up refreshed. My husband is the King of Power Naps and wakes up like he’s been juiced and ready to run a marathon. I, on the other hand have had few restorative/delicious naps in my lifetime. Today’s was not one of those and upon awakening, the afternoon had turned dreary-chilly and didn’t contribute anything positive to my mood. Whenever I get like “that” my husband does his SNL Debbie Downer impression, which is really quite good. It always makes me laugh. He always makes me laugh. That’s one of the many reasons I keep him.

Today’s offering to the project contains a little bit of dark humor about a chicken who’d had it with a guinea fowl’s noisiness and begged me to end his suffering…

Making The Best of A Pandemic Fat Tuesday

I love the fact that folks in NOLA are decorating their porches and yards. Seeing them, even from far away through the magic of satellites and video imagery puts a little joy in my heart. No parades this year, but we can still mask up and go get the King Cake, dig out our beads and the red Solo cups and pretend we are just as happy being wherever we are. Personally I’d be happier if this pandemic was over and I could safely travel to hug my kids and grandkids. That in itself would be worthy of a parade!

As it is, I’m extremely happy and grateful that it’s 68 degrees here and that I have power, unlike so many millions across the country today. I’m currently in my home office, listening to my ocean sound machine and just completed 5 more poems for the project.

Speaking of my home office, I had to devise a new system for letting my husband know I’m in the creative zone and shouldn’t be disturbed. Yesterday I got a little finger-tapping- impatient with him when he burst in and started “sharing” something with me while I was trying to write. I did have the door closed, but that was also because we had a service person here about our AC and I wanted to isolate myself.

The good news is that this pandemic has given us lots and lots of together time. The bad news is that this pandemic has given us lots and lots of together time… So, there I sat at my computer desk, listening to him share the details of a frustrating phone call and a few minutes in I started tapping my fingers as if impatient. I swore I didn’t mean to. It just happened, and well, you can imagine the rest. So now I have a new system. If my office door is closed AND has a scrunchie on it, (hearkening back to college days) that means Please Do Not Disturb.

I hope you can think of something to celebrate today. Maybe just that it’s Tuesday and one day closer to the weekend, maybe your kid completed their virtual school session without tears, or maybe you got a vaccine appointment for you or someone you love. Maybe you just kept it together on this 340th day since the US Covid crisis began. Tell Alexa to turn up the tunes and have a little conga line parade in your house.

Here’s today’s Carol and Emily offering.