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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Pittsford -- Poems for March 15



WE like March, his shoes are purple by Emily Dickinson
The Ides Of March by Constantine P. Cavafy
The Ides of March A.D. 1896 by Emily Mary Barton
Ghazal: The Dark Times by Marilyn Hacker
Making History by Marilyn Nelson
Sweater by Jane Hirshfield
What I Know by Lee Robinson


A group gets together... reads a poem aloud. Discusses, shares.
It's all a good thing. Generosity of reading to understand; generosity of listening; it's not about
showing off what one knows so much, although the extra knowledge is always welcome.

What do you find most pleasurable when visiting a museum? The time to contemplate, silently, a work of art,
or having someone hustle you through threading themes of what is available.
The same with poetry. There are many ways to understand, access, appreciate, come to terms with a poem.
The beauty is in the sharing.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pittsford discussion March 8; Rundel, March 16


poems below discussed at Pittsford on March 8


Rundel will discuss them March 16. For self-monitors discussion, the notes in parentheses were for the Rundel group:
Dear March - Come in - (#1320) Emily Dickinson, 1830 – 1886
(What is the effect of the m-dashes. Where does she leave them out?)

The earth is a living thing Lucille Clifton, 1936 - 2010
(note how the title carries into the poem... 2 tercets, a couplet
and then six lines, each one starts with “is a black” except for the couplet, “is a fish black blind in the belly...” with its heavy alliteration of b’s in both lines. Note as well how “discarded” in the second tercet could be an enjambment to include the fish with a reversal of verb-subject... How does the final stanza contrast with that?)

What It Feels Like to Feel Like Me by Selima Hill
Cow by Selima Hill
note the title of the source of “The Cow” – real poems for unreal times.
(Why would this be a good poem to include in such an anthology?)

My Generation Reading the Newspapers by Kenneth Patchen
(Discuss “loss” and the multiple layers of “these”—
how both reading and recording are addressed – is the advice as pertinent now as almost 90 years ago?)

A Small- Sized Mystery by Jane Hirschfield
(What tone does Hirschfield create? Does her parable touch you ? How or how not.)
The Idea of Living by Joyce Sutphen

Pittsford Discussion
Dickinson:
What is it about March, and its hinges of Spring, with wild winds and contrary temperament, that Dickinson would want to dwell with it, and shut the door on April? Perhaps the last vestiges of winter in March, allow the kind of meditative reflection we associate with winter, and the wildness of March provides us with a marvelous energy to prepare us for rebirth...

Clifton:
The repetition of "black", the alliterative B's (repeating blind) the repetition of circling... the shambling, ruffling, circling, gives a view of Earth alive, through animals, but also child, giving equal weight to being
black as a race... the language is filled with a sensuous a bigness that spans air, sea, and a sense of a planet spinning in space. The brilliance of the poem is how black changes.

Selima Hill:
We read the 4 lines of "What it feels like to feel like me" then, "the cow" to get a sense of the voice of this delightfully eccentric poet.
We then re-read the 4 lines. One interpretation is to think of the author who does not want to be domesticated... some sort of quilt, decorated with appliqués-- an idea of a field... and yet... inferring
the possibility of being something expansive and nurturing...
Do listen to the poet reading her poem "Cow" -- her sense of humor is clear, and will dislodge any idea
that she is complaining about her lot in life preferring the large, fertile and female-nurturing image of cow.
https://youtu.be/WO1aQfJppYs
"Cow" comes from: Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times. Both poems point to survival techniques.

Patchen:
I am not sure when this poem was written, however, the date might be important...
The opening line, "We must be slow and delicate" is repeated, "hard it is to be slow and delicate in this,"
where "this" is the framing of words... a sense of regret, countered by a sense of being in the moment;
One person thought it might be a eulogy, or an obituary, referring to Patchen's little sister hit by an
automobile and killed.

Maura (Pittsford group) read her letter she wrote in the voice of the grandfather she never knew at this point.


In the Hirschfield poem, quite a discussion of cats ensued with examples of those cats who if not
saying “Excuse me" seem to say, "I'm sorry". The poem is not really about mercy, nor the pondering of the universe with an Einsteinian mind... but rather points to the fact that we are alive, on an earth where all is living... with a bit of an implication about our need for connection, engagement...and small-sized mysteries...
The cats are really just an excuse to talk about being human...


Sutphen: Back to "this earth" -- the grounded and sensuous details, contrast with the "hammered gold" -- Donne's image in his poem, "Valediction" where he explains to his wife their love will not be severed by his going off on a voyage. The poems is an exercise in understatement...

Is it about living... contrasted with the idea of living or simply an exercise in mindfulness?



Poems for March 1-2

‘I never seen such days as this’ by Sholeh Wolpé,
Other Fugitives and Other Strangers by Rigoberto González
The Soldier of Mictlán by Rigoberto González
Casa by Rigoberto González
Mimesis by Fady Joudah
Author’s Prayer by Ilya Kaminsky
The undertaker’s daughter by Toi Derricotte


"American poetry as a body is best when it reflects America's inherent pluralism and defies
the monoculture America never truly was>" Danielle Legros Georges

It is good to be reminded by poems, that "news" does not contain the reminders of our humanity,
and what it is to be human.

Each one of these poems shares a dark slice of life that I have not experienced. I appreciate the poems
for providing me another lens, and appreciate the discussion of how the poems touched both groups.

Taking the words of a 14-year old held in an Afghan prison as title, then repeating them as final line,
with just one added word: "Father". The poem spans the distance between the son, his story, and the father
hoping to earn money to pay his ransom... The opening stanza, which explains why ragged, hungry boys
would join an army... like the promises of the fox in Pinocchio... the unfinished sentences matching the age
of a victim and the number of people raping him...

The next three poems by Rigoberto Gonzáles, not only are eye-openers into the details of a Mexican-born, gay man's life, but also stunning examples of craft. Normally when we say, "I trust"... there is an implicit
understanding between the "I" and the "you" to which it is directly. Here, the poem starts with night, with unsettling details of a nightclub's neon lights, "red with anxiety", and the "I trust" applied to the anonymous drivers of cars, whose headlights are "white as charcoal", "not the swerve". Each "I trust" introduces a deeper angle of what it is like to hook up. "I dance, I drink, I follow>" Like Veni, vidi, vici... and "trust" becomes increasingly a demonstration of the opposite of what we would expect it to be. All traces will be gone; one stranger replaced by another. The fugitive however, leaves the reader wondering from what one flees... a mixture of loneliness, intimacy. The layers of anger burn in the headlights...the f's piling up of "fender, fury, false"
A stranger's tongue is trusted not to make connection, give promises. Trust acts as counter balance to pain/desire. The group remarked that the poem could be written by a woman.

The Soldier of Mictlán employs "soldier" as the last word on each line. Mictlán as underworld... the pied piper effect of the first poem returns in the penultimate line, as the rattle that summons a soldier to death... The emptiness, no promise ever of comfort. Soldier is applied as adjective to boots, word, nose, heart, palm, eyes, love, head, life... The "mayor of Mictlan" seems to show compassion, at first glance, but it turns into a request... that the newly-arrived soldier teach wonder and kindness... and the search for a moment, one moment
of "soldier bliss". Just as futile a request, as the request of the soldier for bread, cheese and wife.
from Unpeopled Eden. Copyright © 2013 by Rigoberto Gonzalez
One hears the soldier’s boots stepping-- in fact you can see a video of González reciting the poem, marching in place. The futility of being a soldier reminded David of the Odyssey – when Odysseus goes to underworld...and in order to speak must have some living blood. He concludes, "I would rather be a slave in world above than king of this underworld..."

Casa is a persona poem where the house is seemingly indifferent. The neutral position is so counter to how we would like to imagine the ideal "home" ... and yet there is something lovable about this house... sometimes cryptic, sometimes funereal, addressing "whatever launched this grim parade/ of exits. Quickly denying any feeling of abandonment with believable bravado. After dismissing the possibility of a house being any sort of wish, or provider of any attachment of value, the last line is enigmatic:
"a structure without soul for those whose
patron saints are longing and despair."
It leads the reader to contemplate what would give a house a soul...


The next poem by Fady Joudah is one of those simple constructs that confirms "less is more". A girl, a spider web in her bicycle's handlebars; a father telling her to get rid of the web so she can go on to play ... and the wisdom of the girl understanding web as home, and its destruction the way we treat refugees. Such a cursory
summary hopefully we make you want to read the poem...

We closed with The Undertaker's Daughter (Rundel didn't have enough time for the "Author's Prayer"-- which echoes the importance of writing). Like the Joudah, Derricotte uses a light sketch-touch... a little girl whose father deals with preparing people for burial, like Anubis except there is more here about the father...
just as there is more about all of us, not wanting to share fears and shames... just as there is a universal longing in all of us for a sense of nurture... just as also, we all have vulnerable spots others are not supposed to see...


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Workshop notes for February

The fun of a poem, for me, is how it engages words, communicates something I would otherwise not have thought of..

Title... "Can you hear my smile" -- the title suggests the poem is about faking a smile to get through a horrendous interaction... the structure of the poem treats the smile as a response to...
diction... synesthesia strong; how "telling" undoes a lyrical moment.. if the tone is jaunty, sarcastic, does that serve an emotional truth better than a tone that is sincere... is the reader given surface clarity for time/place?
Noise vs. silence.
The second workshop, a revised poem without the song the nursery rhymes about blind mice, humpty dumpty who had a great fall alternated prose and shorter lines. It was suggested to use "reading of letters" as the set up and include other ones.

In the article by George Saunders,
( https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/04/what-writers-really-do-when-they-write?CMP=share_btn_fb )
he describes the process of writing prose, starting with a snapshot of Lincoln
losing his son Willy. It's a great idea... filled with emotion but such an enormous grief, it is hard to know how to write it... He uses the metaphor of the writer being the juggler who throws pins up in the air and then sees which one to catch-- circles around a subject until the pins are spot on.
Always consider the reader looking for discovery, transformation...

There is something wonderful in feeling the presence of the writer within you, of something wilful that seems to have a plan’ … George Saunders.

BF Fairchild: Mrs. Hill. Narrative. first memory of Battle Creek, MI, home of cereal fabrication...
sets up a domestic battle... a lyric moment... soldiers, ladies in flower hats... a cut-away moment
marriage ceremony language... the cigar box as tomb for ashes... return to the initial subject...
Every word counts... heroism is not about collecting medals...

Bill Knott: to read: Laugh at the End of the World.

Two poems based on current events; "On the turning up of Unidentified Black Female Corpses" by Toi Derricotte is a response to Henry Taylor's "Landscape with Tractor"

**
Mt. Imbabura... invited to go on a trip to Ecuador... and we find out the speaker is scared of heights...
Frida Kahlo -- her self portrait with heart. What details do we see that suggest a broken soul... one arm sticks out like a brown twig, the white blouse sleeve is empty... How does the poem leap into the more universal area
of how we become "numb to the scenarios of life", handless and helpless... empty clothes hang by a thread,
stretch to the sky, the life-span of a woman's heart...

Fire Safety: -- catalogue of possessions... things that matter... what do you choose if there's a fire?
emotional truth of parents, of course, always there...

Review Gregory Orr: Poetry as Survival... the 3 powers: Story (what if)
if not enough, shift to symbol (inferred meaning)
if not enough, rely on incantation.

If the metal is hot, what do you try next?

Safety Concerns: credibility-- a sense of a voice of authority...
"Somewhere in the country, a girl is trembling..." -- line... is it propulsive? mimetic... how choose the pacing...

Paha Sapa: Lakota: political poems run the risk of standing on a soap box... preaching...editorializing.
What do readers want to hear? Poetry is not the "what" but the "how" we say it. If a lament, we will listen, vs. ranging.

Ask poems, what is engaging? encourage writers by saying, "you have written an ambitious and important piece"...
where is the narrative jolt..

**
Einstein: no worthy problem ever solved in the plane of its original conception.

What are the pins I'm going to throw up in the air? Which ones seem necessary as they tumble down?
How will I put them back together...

**
Craft. The vessel that takes us to our edges.

Everything for the final impact.

Marianne Moore. Only have as much clarify equal to your reticence.
**
Ask

1.What is a line from your favorite poem or song?
2. Draw a small portrait of your first pet.
3. What 3 objects include your mother’s favorite colors?
4. What scent best embodies who you are?
5. What is your favorite three word sentence?
6. Explain how you got a scar on your body.
7. Come up with an imaginary definition of your last name.
8. How did you come by your first name?
Instructions: answer these questions and give to the person on your left.
You will write a poem using the information you receive.
a) offer one counter argument. (ex. It is a mistake to think... Don’t think for a minute.. a counter argument never has a conclusion.)
b) describe the drawing in one sentence.
c) use the three word sentence at least twice.
d) title the poem “A Poem by (person whose answers you received)
e) 5 obstructions: (2003 film: remaking The Perfect Human five times, each time with a different "obstruction" (or obstacle) imposed by von Trier.[1]


Monday, February 27, 2017

poems for Feb. 23-24

The Second Going by Philip Levine
Even-Keeled and At-Eased by Alberto Ríos
What We Need by David Budbill
Trying to Name What Doesn’t Change by Naomi Shihab Nye
I look at the world by Langston Hughes
Making Peace by Denise Levertov
Short Speech to My Friends – Amiri Baraka

The first two came from the February issue of "Poetry". The titles are intriguing--
Why "the second going" -- what was the first? What relationship to the second coming?
The staggered lines feel like an unfolding staircase... There's a sense of nordic darkness,
where the sun will not appear for months,and conversely, the absence of dark in summer.
Light as the oxymoron of blinding clarity. The unspoken conceit -- "why are we here";
the consolation of small -- a pinch (of salt), a drop (of schnapps, short (life of long nights/absent dawns) little... salt, which removes bitterness... the strong alcohol for the tears...
the enigmatic ticket to the life to come does not have an adjective...
I love how A sticks out on the fifth line. How the poem starts in media res... Again...
without knowing what happened before.


People shared a bit about Alberto Rios, poet laureate of Arizona, a Mexican-American who probably learned to wear a mask of "even-keeled". The title sounds almost like made-up words --
I'm "at-eased" -- someone has given you a command to relax... which in my mind does not seem a situation to be genuinely relaxed. I love the pattern of end lines:
I / I have / I have contracted
I / I have

but no repeat of "contracted.
The sense of humor is delightful. Both groups commented how the poem sounds as if it was written backwards. On Monday, to you... But the truth is... I am Thursday.


The Budbill poem has a pleasing architecture. The first 5 lines look like a billboard or poster -- with a tyrannical tone.
heavy, threatening. The clatter of couplets is broken by the one solo line "we need" which responds to the title: 3 things:
a little (poem), small (song) brief (moment)
kindness, peace, joy. Paul called it DBT model.

Trying to Name What Doesn't Change-- another terrific title!
What doesn't change? The only thing that doesn't change, is change is the old saw --But this poem is not about change, but how we hang on or not to train tracks, soup, the way things die. The last stanza is haunting
What train whistle "still wails" ... and why "ancient" sound as the simple things... how the coming and going
are more than delivering and picking up... what is it that "it takes something different with it every time."

Comments included: now that there are fewer trains... perhaps one day the sound will disappear... how will we understand trains then...
how many ways to feel close to the world... rails have become trails – so that is good...
Luis Alberto Reyes... clickity clack stitching America together...
Jackson Brown: Roads that are leaving, roads that are gone...
cling to our memories... Don’t count on the things you are counting on.

The Langston Hughes was one of the "lost" poems written in 1930. It has a tight rhyme scheme, a sense of hopefulness.. Yes, about being Black, but also about comrades in arms to fight oppression whether it be
capitalism, favoritism of democracies, oligarchies... How do you look at the world? Whose eyes do you use?
What would you see if you were not you...

Making Peace looks at a variety of ways of understanding peace, but also poetic process.
Comments : everything from crystals and the water composition in humans, e.g. fetus is 90%; newborn 70%...
Levertov would agree with Frost: if the idea comes first a poem, it will rely on success as a trick poem...
but not be successful. It is image that dictates mood...
Looking at the indentations... a drop down of a line, space... but it is the 4th time where words, feeling, lines
become "cadence" with the possibility of balance, pulse,
inner peace... outer disaster...
I'm not sure if she is addressing inner peace vs. outer disaster, but certainly, her poem is intriguingly complex.

The Baraka seems disjointed, jumping around too fast. One has to remember Leroi Jones, is the author
layering the voices, clashing emotions... Back to the Newark riots in 1967... We discussed at length the last sentence of the first part.
"Let the combination of morality /and inhumanity // begin.
In part 2, is our daily lie, also our daily "life".

Pittsford O Pen discussion: David mentioned his advice to students reading TS Eliot: "Find the islands" --
the places where you can anchor some sense...
for the Baraka poem, we have to imagine the time period, the voice... which is not 2017 and far from the 1967 Newark riots, experienced in a black person's skin. John brought up a remark made by Camus who as a boy thought that anyone not speaking French, was not speaking a language. The same with jazz... this is not the language of classical music... but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its own logic...











Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Poems for Feb. 15-16

Resignation by Nikki Giovanni (read with everyone saying "I love you" as chorus -- there are 12 such
This Morning I Pray for My Enemies by Joy Harjo (read line by line. no enjambments.)
Red Brocade by Naomi Shihab Nye (read sentence by sentence.
Bugs in a Bowl by David Budbill(stanzas. I love how "Or." is one stanza!)
DetoNation by Ocean Vuong (played the poet reading his own work.)


It often comes up that those who like to know something about the author, feel background knowledge enhances the pleasure of reading the poem. It does make a difference for instance to know that Nikki Giovanni is a fab Black poet born in 1943, that Joy Harjo is American Indian, that Naomi is part Palestinian, the David Budbill is Buddhist and Ocean Vuong's real name was not Ocean, but one his mother gave him as they left the Philippines.

I feel really blessed that in our weekly group, we can share so many different points of view, some based on research, previous knowledge, some conjecture based on experience. It makes such a human tapestry — and I love how one poem can trigger such an outpouring of humanity!

Rae Armantrout has this to say about poetry:
“clarity need not be equivalent to readability. How readable is the world? There is another kind of clarity that doesn’t have to do with control but with attention, one in which the sensorium of the world can enter as it presents itself.”

In the first poem, "Resignation" the anaphor "I love you" pins down "because", compares itself,
considers alternatives, forays into a song by the Dells (Love is so simple) only to end up
with the indubitable power of love, the draws you to another and demands that you "should"
and "would" and how one person changes a whole life to love that other person... and just in case you don't get it... "and decided that I would,
love you
I love you I love you I love you."
She starts big... I love you because the Earth turns round the sun...
and we remarked the capital letters, "North wind" Pope is Catholic, most Rabbis Jewish.
Black (but after coffee, so expanded meaning) and that one Friday.

**
When is the last time you prayed for your enemies? I love that the first question is:
and whom do I call my enemy? Harjo addresses the question of "enemy", or heart/mind, the problem of indifference... of knowing. And that delightful twist -- an enemy who RISKS the danger of becoming a friend!
It goes back to the wisdom of holding what looks to be opposites together. (The heart... hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.) The mind has a hard time doing this but the heart is able to open the door in ways the mind cannot.

Stories shared about the KKK white supremacist who left the clan and befriended Blacks. Questions:Who do you want to call a respectful enemy? Comments: It’s a love poem...
enmity/hatred *consumes... vs. forgiveness..
to read: Notes of a native son – James Baldwin... Civil Conversation Project: Krista Tippett
The people who are the troublemakers – what they bring for us...
sand in the oyster that makes the pearl.


We had discussed Red Brocade I am sure, but it is a wonderful poem to read again and again.
Middle Eastern culture is different than ours. Imagine if we said, and truly meant it,
"No, I was not busy when you came!"... Imagine if we did not need the armor of business!
Ah... I feel with this poem a powerful sermon reminding me of my preoccupation with business.
How in High School, I would say how I had to practice piano, had to... had to... but the fact was,
that busy compulsion was just to pretend I had reason to live, unable as I was to help the mother
I loved unable to offer me a simple pleasure of snipping fresh mint into tea to share together.
Did I give my children that message too?
For the form: It is interesting to note the blend of end-stopped, comma-stopped sentences and
general flow -- as if the words stitch a comfortable pillow on which to rest.
3 sentences in first stanza of 11 lines;
5 sentences, two of which are fragments of questions in 5 lines;
3 sentences in stanza three, of 5 lines with a preponderance of initial "p;s" First sentence/line ends with an exclamation! Second sentence/line a period.
Final stanza: 3 sentences. 2 end-stopped. I love how p is repeated in "plate" and "snip".



Bugs in a Bowl gives a gentle poke at our human nature with humor. We do have choices...
Ask yourself every once in a while. Or.

Be the change... You don't like Sisyphus... be a bug in a bowl, look around. Hey, nice rock.
How's the push going?
Some were reminded of H. M. Woggle-Bug, T.E. (Highly Magnified and Thoroughly Educated)!

The final poem was quite enigmatic... the title combining the sense of detonation of a Nation.
How both father and bomb are repeated. Play of dark and light...
How does a bomb tell you: "here is your father" -- one imagines a dead man in pieces.
one's father in the very air you breath... and to write father has the effect of "carving a portion of the day our of a bomb-bright page." The father returns as italics, perhaps a ghost... don't cry
// anymore. The haunting image of a boy, his shadow growing toward his father...
One needs light to cast a shadow...

Apparently in an interview, Ocean said that it is a mistake to think that the poem is about
the poet's father. However, one does learn that the father left... and the war metaphor is apt
to capture loss.

As ever, the discussion allowed multiple angles and discoveries.

Thank you one and all.





Thursday, February 16, 2017

Poems for February 8-9

For Once, Then, Something by Robert Frost
Spaces by Jenny Johnson
The Chance by Arthur Sze
“Home” by Warsan Shire
Dear Mother of Three by Wanda Schubmehl

+
utube of Robert Hayden reading his poem, “Frederick Douglass”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeD9XYeIRoI
the poem: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/frederick-douglass-0


Usually I am good about taking notes, about what each class says...
on the computer, or the copy the library makes at Rundel... It is now a week since the discussion...
no notes. Only the poems.
I can't even remember what our Frost specialist had to say... so bear with me.
What is my role as moderator,but to keep people on task with the poem...

The first poem, 15 lines, has an enigmatic title, repeated again to close the poem.
"Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something."
The general idea of looking over well curbs, becomes specific, on line 7 with the word, "once".
Perhaps he makes fun of the poet, the head wreathed in the reflection, with puffs of clouds. The "once" arrives when -- "for once", he looks with the intent of seeing something beyond himself.
He peers into the well, and sees "a something". Line 10, "Something" repeats and "then" is included: "Something more of the depths—and then I lost it."
The "something" then seems to be lying at the bottom of the well -- which only a drop from a fern
shakes -- and the lovely consonant clusters of "bl-bl" blurred, blotted, turn into the breathy "wh" asking "what was that whiteness".


I loved that everyone applied themselves hard to imagine the scene-- and also "beyond and through" the scene, knowing the poem is more than a description. Some were reminded of the Escher print,
which captures 3 worlds in a puddle -- a fish below the surface, reflections on the surface of what lies above. What is truth but something as slippery as water, whose ripples make it hard to discern. What a boring poem it would be to set out to talk about truth. Instead, a brief haiku-like "once"
with a hint (undefined) at a consequence.


It seemed the perfect prelude to the next poem, "Spaces" where the poet confides she originally wanted to write a poem of witness, but realized "the more honest poem was the one about what a witness can’t know about another person’s experience.”

The short enjambed lines, give a staccato energy of suspense. "I do not know how"... could easily be completed by the words "it happened"...
"... but I keep" -- could be completed by "thinking about her screaming"...
When help comes, and she tries to explain "I found her there after the--..."
the victim interrupts her. We will never know exactly what happened.

The lesson spills out-- yet by calling into question the value of poetry to convey it, confirms the nature both of poems and the complexity of feelings.

Arthur Sze's poem also contains enigma...
What to make of this:
"And as I approach thirty, the distances
are shorter than I guess?"
(going 30 miles an hour, not age 30, we presume). The doubling of language: ironwood, hardens and hardens... passion grows and grows, the desire for "clean white light" -- a bit like Frost's
"something" also blurred when seen reflected in the well, although here is is the x-ray .
His parallels of desire for passion create a sense of urgency that I don't sense in the Frost who creates a scene of "wondering".
Frost uses longer lines with enjambement which contrast with Sze's shorter self-contained lines:
I want a passion that grows and grows.
To feel, think, act, and be defined
by your actions, thoughts, feelings.

Chance... "once" when we are given a moment to "see" or understand, something that seems to "shine".

The problems right now of having a President who didn't seem to be aware of Frederick Douglass brought me to share the wonderful Robert Hayden poem, delivered with the poet's gentle voice.
The other issue of refugees made Warsan Shire's poem quite timely. "no one leaves home" becomes the anaphor that morphs into all the choices no one would make unless desperate. Powerful, authentic.
The poem left all of us with chills, especially closing as it does with "home" picking up the refrain :leave.
"no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here"

The letter written to the mother could also be like witnessing a crime, as in the poem "Spaces".
One person felt it was written more for the writer than for the reader or the family in question. Therapy writing is to alleviate some all consuming emotion or helplessness towards a person/situation.
Regardless, we all felt it was very powerful with its intimate, emotional tone. The only exception noted by one participant were
the first two lines especially and later, "I cannot pick you up......although I'd like to." which stood out for her as distant or casual.