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Category Archives: Personal

Night Class

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Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly

Night Class

I wake at night in the classroom with God
go to His desk to watch Him marking my day.
“Here,” He says, “see your anger when you were kept waiting
your rudeness when disturbed
your defensiveness when criticized?
These are all places the theory you know in your head
those textbook passages you can say by memory
could have been applied.”

My face reddens and I crumple in shame.
Knowing how to use the formulas I can say by rote
to solve the equations of life
–in spite of review after review–
continues to confound me.

But His loving eyes reach deep into my spirit.
“Don’t worry girl,” He says, drawing me up.
“This is not your final grade.
I have planned for you a lifetime
of projects, quizzes and tests
each designed to give you
more insight.
Getting it wrong is also teaching you
how to get it right.”

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

I see by the various versions of “Night Class” in my files that I first wrote it in 2007.  I was reminded me of that old poem when, a few days ago, I read “The Temple of Memory” by John O’Donohue:

The Temple of Memory

When you visit the wounds within the temple of memory, you should not blame yourself for making bad mistakes that you greatly regret. Sometimes you have grown unexpectedly through these mistakes. Frequently, in a journey of the soul, the most precious moments are the mistakes. They have brought you to a place that you would otherwise have avoided. You should bring a compassionate mindfulness to your mistakes and wounds. Endeavor to inhabit the rhythm you were in at that time. If you visit this configuration of your soul with forgiveness in your heart, it will fall into place itself. When you forgive yourself, the inner wounds begin to heal. You come in out of the exile of hurt into the joy of inner belonging.
– John O’Donohue 
Excerpt from ANAM CARA

I love this part of O’Donohue’s piece:

“You should bring a compassionate mindfulness (my one-little-word of the year)  to your mistakes and wounds. …When you forgive yourself, the inner wounds begin to heal.”

May we do that –forgive ourselves– as we press ahead on the spiritual journey.

 

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Clematis’s kids

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I just love the post-blossom stage of clematis flowers. To me they look a lot like tousle-headed children.

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Catherine at Reading to the Core.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on September 22, 2016 in Haiga, Haiku, Nature, Personal

 

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A little screed against progress

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A little screed against progress

New car plays no CDs
camera has no download cord
it’s all Bluetooth and Wi-fi
and I’m feeling pushed toward

a world controlled by passwords
where music’s streamed, not owned
photos float on virtual clouds
and my attention’s honed:

delete the fake-bill email
ignore the mystery link
report the phishing trial
and with suspicion think

of all my cookie fragments
drifting through the air
as a trail of bread crumbs
for the thugs of ransom-ware,

increasingly uneasy
that someday I’ll be hacked…
The internet-less past
was safer—that’s a fact!

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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It’s not that I don’t like progress. The internet has brought many positive changes to my life which  would be very different if I suddenly found myself wi-fi-less.  However, in our rush to do everything online I sometimes get the uneasy feeling, especially on days when news of another mass hack circulates, that we’re all rushing toward a cliff.

PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Carol at Carol’s Corner.

 
17 Comments

Posted by on June 17, 2016 in Light, Personal, Poetry Friday

 

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Un-Hallmark Mother

Un-Hallmark Mother

While I gifted icon carnations
and Hallmark lines, “Mother” to me
smelled of duty and mothball wisdom.
She my root of conscience, scruple

permission to pursue the chaotic
then, like her, to sort and label.
I lived for her sideways compliments
overheard in conversations with her friends.

Her widow-grief broke down walls:
She was fellow-woman.
Our friendship rooted, blossomed—
she was always so good with flowers.

At the end when she needed help
even to get dressed
my heart pinged for her
like she was one of my kids.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Store-bought cards do express a sweet dimension of motherhood, but the real thing is always much more complex. I would be lying if I said my relationship with my mom was all good. We clashed sometimes during my teen years—and beyond. But we worked through our rough spots and became more than friends. It was a relationship that changed with the times and seasons. Mom died ten years ago this June. Does a daughter ever get over not having her mom around?

The photos are of one of our last outings in May 2006. Hubby and I drove her down to White Rock Beach, took her out for lunch, walked to the bear statue at the end of the path, went to the end of the pier, and posed her under the spring blossoms she loved so much.

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday hosted today by Sylvia Vardell at her blog Poetry for Children.

 
26 Comments

Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Personal, Poetry Friday

 

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NPM ’16 – What I learned

SpendItAll-Dillard

The entire quote from which the above is taken:

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now… Some more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.” – Annie Dillard

I once had the quote by Annie Dillard (above) pinned to my bulletin board. It was encouragement to be less hesitant to use my “good ideas”  (what if I never got another one…) and to share my writing. This last month I have put it into practice perhaps more than ever before. For not only did I write a new poem every day but  also published daily here on this blog.

I think I enjoyed April of 2016 poetically more than any National Poetry month till now. I’m sure that’s because I put more into it in several ways. Here are some things I learned about myself and the writing process.

1. The fact that I was determined to post a poem every day had me working harder and more purposefully than other years when I wrote daily but didn’t go public.

2. I got a lot out of following other poets’ projects. Here are some of the April 2016 poem series that I enjoyed a lot:

Mary Lee Hahn’s series inspired by old photos.

Donna Smith’s series inspired by vanity license plates.

– Irene Latham’s series “Art Speak” inspired by paintings (many that involved food, to go with her latest published project Fresh Delicious).

– Amy L. Vanderwater’s series “Wallow in Wonder” inspired by the daily questions at Wonderopolis.

Margaret Simon’s series inspired by photographic images.

– Doraine Bennett’s series “Feet in a Creek” inspired by specific poems of favorite poets.

Heidi Mordhorst’s series of poetry paired with music.

– And of course, being part of the 2016 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem.

These series got me thinking that on another year I’d like to write to a theme.

3. Writing daily has helped me feel more relaxed about the process. It has showed me that if you sit with an idea for a while, something usually surfaces. The wonderful thing about poetry is that it can be about anything. When I give what James Scott Bell calls “the boys in the basement” the assignment to come up with an idea, they usually do. It helps, though, to be patient and respect the process.  Here’s how I described that process some years ago

Some Poems

Some poems appear like lightning
an epiphany moment
of illuminating clarity

Others are a groping hand-over-hand
out of the well of experience
into the light of meaning

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

4. Finally, what kept me going most was the companionship of my writing friend Laurel. She joined me in this challenge by publishing a new poem of her own almost every day on her blog Four Parts Hope. There’s nothing like a poet buddy to keep one on track. Thanks Laurel!

Thanks, as well, to all who came by and read these daily April postings!

I will now resume my usual pedestrian schedule of one or two posts per week.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Personal, Writing

 

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I Remember … (NPM ’16-Day 30)

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Story time with Aunt Helen

I Remember…

I remember the holes in the green roll-down blinds
and how they looked like a starry sky.

I remember caramel-colored fly paper
hanging twisty from the ceiling
dotted with black.

I remember making cakes and cookies
when we got to play with water in the sandbox.

I remember lying sick on the couch
and how the flowers in the living room curtains
became faces.

I remember story time with Aunt Helen.

I remember angel food cake
and strawberries with whipped cream
for every birthday.

I remember licking the beaters.

I remember Saturday work
and how much I hated it.

I remember washing the cream separator last
and how slimy the dishcloth got
in old soap and lukewarm water.

I remember early wash day mornings
with the sounds of the chugging machine
and daddy playing quartet records
while he waited for another load
to hang on the line.

I remember starting the fire in the sleigh—
the smell of kerosene and smoke
and how one side of my leg
would soon be sunburn-hot.

I remember grape juice and pop—
our Christmas dinner “wine.”

I remember frosty spring mornings
and cracking crystal ice.

I remember spring evenings
full of the drone and ribbet of frogs.

I remember the smell of earth
and the wind holding its breath
just before a summer rain.

I remember the gentle sound of grazing chickens
on summer holiday mornings.

I remember how prickly nervous I got
gathering eggs from nesting hens.

I remember the smell of the kitchen
when Mom made pickles.

I remember the smell of wheat
in the fall when Dad was combining.

I remember the sweet-sour caramel crab-apples
Mom made for fall picnics.

I remember reading
till 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.
and wishing Anne of Green Gables
was my friend.

©2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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I decided to take the April 29th NaPoWriMo challenge of writing an “I remember’ poem:

“… write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other.”

I discovered, once I got started, it was hard to stop! The poem contains only a few of my memories. Are they anything like yours?

And with that I come to the end of  poem-a-day National Poetry Month 2016! It was fun posting a new poem every day, even though sometimes a little hectic. Of the 30 poems I published this April, 28 were newly written this month. Thanks for all who came by to read and leave a comment!

I’ll now get back to my usual about twice-a-week posting schedule.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2016 in People, Personal

 

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ICSPOTS (NPM ’16-Day 28)

One of the most fun parts of this April has been following the projects of various Poetry Friday friends. Donna, at Mainely Write, for example, has been posting vanity license plates she has photographed, a day for each letter of the alphabet, and using one of the day’s plates as a poem prompt.

When Adele Kenny’s blog (one of the places I check daily for poem-writing ideas) linked the poem “Which Way is Up?”—the thoughts of poet Tony Gruenewald on seeing a vanity plate flash by him on the road—I thought immediately of Donna’s project.

I surfed over to her website and on browsing through the variety of plates, a semblance of order began to suggest itself to me and, voila—a found poem!  Donna has generously allowed me to use plate photos from her blog for ICSPOTS. (Thanks Donna!)

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© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly, Photos by Donna Smith (All rights reserved)

In case you didn’t get the message via the plate lingo, here it is, in translation (with my additions in parentheses):

Icy Spots(?)

Whatever
Look up,
Love Jesu
North Star.

Oh my—
Are you salt?
Misfit?
(It’s) OK.

Kiddos,
Anchor D(own).
Rejoice.
You are loved.

We (are) grateful
You be brave,
Überkül (Extra cool)
Smoov (Smooth)

VN.

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2016 in Found, Personal, Poetry Friday, Religious

 

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