Posted June 25, 2020 in News Articles
We continued to look back at Mindful Poetry selections from our first year in 2019. June 24, we gathering to contemplate and respond to Layli Long Soldiers "Whereas: An excerpt." Stacy Sims led us in a meditation and Manuel Iris, Cincinnati's Poet Laureate, facilitated the discussion and response. You can find the recorded session above. We will continue to gather to explore the beauty of poetry. Join us July 29, 3pm(est), RSVP here.
Community Response Poems
by Holly Brians Ragusa
Then I missed the thing I wanted most.
Thought I wanted most, and dreamt it into being.
Now while I still dream, I know I was looking for a piece of myself I had yet to create.
Then when the door was closed, I shrunk from the handle.
A barrier between us.
Now when I feel trapped, I know I was looking for a way to open the space that lay there.
Then I played alone melting wax and color onto the hot stone.
Now while I write, I know I was breaking down elements in myself to build beauty.
I Was Looking for Vastness
By Lena Sclove
Then, when the closet was painted dark blue, and I would sit amidst my hanging dresses, boxes to my right and left, on a cushion, I wrote, “Dear Diary” and wove tales of young girls in the forest.
Now, I write in a classroom, in a zoom room, on a bench, in a note on my phone, and then send it to a friend, show it to my partner, cherish it and release it to the wind.
and I know that I was looking for connection, for a way to feel in relationship with something outside of myself, and yet simultaneously within myself. To forget the loneliness of only childhood, to write into being, a network of companions. “Dear diary” meant “come play with me.”
Then, when the drums were exploding sound on the stage, dancers shaking, and the floor vibrating from the sound, I ran out to the parking lot and threw up on the pavement, the anxiety level overflowing, the pot of panic boiling over.
Now, I hear fireworks two blocks away and flinch, my upper lip twitches, and for a moment I am that small girl in the parking lot again.
and I know that I was looking for an inner silence that can envelope the noise and hold it lovingly—unthreatened.
Then, when I started at a new elementary school, there was a massive field out back, and I looked up at the sky and got it, really got it, that the earth is round. I traced the curve from one side of the horizon all the way to the other, I laid down in the grass, and I couldn’t understand how I was on the surface of the earth. I felt like I was right smack in the middle, at the diameter, cutting across the center, looking up at the top half, and trusting that the bottom half would hold me up.
Now, my meditation teacher tells me to be the sky, that the sky doesn’t mind the clouds, the sky just watches them float by. Now when I lead prayer, my voice rises, pulses, curves, like the abyss above on that day in the field behind my elementary school…
and I know that I was looking for a feeling of vastness around me, to feel part of that vastness. To release anxiety to that vastness, release loneliness to that vastness. To live a life of awe at how large the sky is, and yet not get lost in false beliefs of my smallness.
by Lauren Sharpe
Then, when I was cruising the cul-de-sac,
Huffy Desert Rose banana seat --
I was scanning for the single pearlescent shell,
the one I decided I owned,
cemented pretty-side-up in the pavement.
Now, I pick up sparkly beads from the carpet,
resentfully, over and over,
and I know that I was looking for
a way to special myself,
to own a piece of land.
Then, I moved my body
to fifth position,
with devotion, endlessly memorizing.
Now, I sit, in front of a screen,
I make the gesture
of pushing the door open, just a crack.
And now, I know I was looking
for an understanding
visible only in motion.
Then, when I instructed her to pretend
to be the Diana to my Anne,
me bailing pretend water
from the pretend boat.
Now, while we stand in front
of each other, on the phone,
without the glue of a hug to keep us together --
I know I was looking
to control you: four-years-younger, wait for me,
I’ll decide, no not yet, wait here til I’m finished,
look up at me I’ll show you how it’s done.
by Elena Estelle Green
Then, they said you were in Heaven.
Now, the only thing I see between us
Is the sky.
Then, they said the hurt was huge.
Now, it fills a room.
Then, my heart was broken.
Now, the crack is filled with gold.
So much light then and now
Now and then an eclipse,A little fog.
I’m always leaving things behind.
The things I wanted most.
A diamond ring,
A family never formed.
Now, when I face an oncoming
Storm, my eyes look upward,
And the only thing I see between us
Is the sky.
Between heaven and earth.
Between you and I.
Between the known and the unknown
Between the vast majority of pain
There is only sky.
Then, When, Now!
by Mahip Rathore
Then, when I knew so little, life seemed simple and I felt enough
Now When I know so much, I feel incomplete as if never enough.
I know I am looking for something beyond all knowing,
But then the looking wasn’t needed because life was ever flowing.
Then, when I couldn’t speak; I heard the silence,
Now when I sit in silence, my mind constantly speaks.
I know I am not getting younger again,
But the silence I heard then, is still the same
Then, when the world was big and I so small,
Fear was unknown and frequent my fall.
Now when I am standing tall, the ground seems far away.
In anticipation of falling I kept my wings away.
I know I can fly, I have flown before,
How will the sea come to me if I don’t leave the shore?
Only the Brave Can Love
After Manuel Iris
by Sarah Pinho
Then, when you were roaring, and you were flailing, and
you were grabbing my person. Then, when you were
raising your arm high above my head, impossibly high,
higher still towards the wide Nebraska sky, in order to
capture momentum, in order to bring it down
with more force, upon my person.
Now, when I carefully prepare questions. Now, when I
ask you if I may record. Now, when you say yes,
unhesitatingly. Now, when I hear your narrative,
framed by you, told by you. Now, when your voice
breaks. Now, when your stories meander up Portuguese
hills and through your avô's workshop with the handcrafted
oxen yokes and over the first family apartment tenderly
appointed with its own fridge and around an inner city
American high school and into an elite university,
foreign to your ears, foreign to your eyes,
foreign to your humble sensibilities.
I know that I was receiving your shame into my person, I know
that I was receiving your fear into my person, I know
that I was receiving your hopes into my person.