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Physiotherapy appointment

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Image: Pixabay

Physiotherapy appointment

For one hour a week
us hip surgery survivors
meet on the fantasy island
of the physiotherapy gym.

A technician in orange T-shirt
butterflies from one cot to the next
sets a wedge under knees
straps a weight to an ankle
harnesses a foot in a stirrup
links the stirrup to a spring
places a heel into a red stretchy strip
along with quick instructions
of what to do next.

I raise and lower
stretch and relax
in and out
back and forth
up and down.
I’m good at this!

She reminds us of the rules:
Wear your shoes
Don’t bend past 90
and asks, What do you look forward
to doing after this is over?
Here that rainbow is practically touchable.

Then the hour is past
and it’s back to a cane-stump
down the hall
awkward clamber into the car
and carry on
with my limping life

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration:

This is another poem I wrote while recovering from hip surgery in 2014. The prompt: on April 16, 2014 the Your Daily Almanac poem has the poet’s impressions / epiphany after time spent at the drivers license office.

The challenge to me is to make a poem from an everyday experience. The prompt poem begins:

Renewal
by Jeffrey Harrison

At the Department of Motor Vehicles
to renew my driver’s license, I had to wait
two hours on one of those wooden benches
like pews in the church of Latter Day
Meaninglessness, where there is no
stained glass (no windows at all, in fact),
no incense other than stale cigarette smoke
emanating from the clothes of those around me,
and no sermon, just an automated female voice
calling numbers over a loudspeaker…
Read the rest…

~*~*~*~*~

VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Posted by on April 12, 2017 in LIMP sequence, Personal

 

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Mindfulness at Christmas

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One of the Christmas bells in my mother’s collection (Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly)

Thank you to Irene Latham for rallying us to revive our Spiritual Journey Thursday meme, at least this once. We’re invited to reflect on our One Little Word choices for 2017.

My 2017 word was / is MINDFULNESS.

I am aware that there are psychological and, in some faiths, religious overlays to the word which may bring baggage to it that I hadn’t intended. In my February post where I talked about what mindfulness meant to me, I gave it this definition:

Mindfulness, simply defined, is “being present in the moment.” It also has a psychology definition:

“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience” – Definition from Psychology Today.

Personally I like that second definition except for the bit about not judging. I reserve the right to judge and filter out thoughts that are critical, negative, pessimistic, hateful, etc.

Now, in the middle of December, I am relating mindfulness to Advent, the candles that are lit each week in church, and the qualities each represents. So far we have focused on HOPE, PEACE, and JOY. I suspect next Sunday when we light the fourth candle, we will hear about LOVE.

I want to possess these qualities in abundance and in their purest forms, especially at Christmas. However, the circumstances of my life change and with those changes my emotions fluctuate resulting in the needle of my Hope-, Peace-, and Joy-meters becoming virtual pendulums,

Each Sunday’s sermon has helped me focus on the lasting and unchanging aspects of Hope, Peace, and Joy that play out for us in the events of that first Christmas. Hope doesn’t dim because God took the initiative to reconnect with us, and promises us eternal life beyond this life. Peace is possible because we’ve entrusted Jesus with our lives; Joy is irrepressible because we are invited into relationship with our Creator. I’m sure next Sunday’s talk on Love will deliver something just as enduring.

My challenge to myself, then, is when circumstances change—when I get the flu, or the shortbreads don’t turn out, or the weather switches off all the power and my plans go sideways, or whatever—I remain mindful of the lasting, unchanging verities of the season’s meaning, instead of losing hope, peace, joy, and love at the whim of what’s happening in my daily life.

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”—a poem that became the carol—illustrates how this worked for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who, according to this article, wrote it in the middle of the American Civil War. The carol version leaves out the two stanzas that refer specifically to the war. Here is his poem in its original form.

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Image: Pixabay

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

I’m going to take ringing bells as my cue to be mindful of the truths that Advent represents that are bigger than my fluctuating day-to-day hope, peace, joy, and love.

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This post is linked to “Spiritual Journey Thursday,” hosted today by Irene Latham. At the link-up you’ll be directed to other bloggers and their Spiritual Journey Thursday posts.

 

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Brown Girl Dreaming (review)

51-pl9bj7il-_sx331_bo1204203200_Poetry Camp inspired me to be a more regular visitor to my library (thanks, Janet Wong!). My fascination with verse novels prompted me to pick up Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.

I quickly discovered, though, that this isn’t exactly a verse novel. It’s a memoir—the story of young Jacqueline taking us through her childhood and to a time she comes to realize what her dream is and begins to see it blossom in her life.

The whole thing is told in verse—in free verse poems that are simple. I would say deceptively simple for almost all end in a way that put me on my heels and had me thinking: I believe there is more to this than what first meets the eye. In other words, these accessible poems also invite re-reading.

I love the real-life detail that makes the characters, the brothers and sisters, Grandma and Grandpa, mother, aunts and uncles, come alive. While reading this book I experienced the phenomenon of the particularities of Jacqueline’s life becoming a vessel for my own experience—even though the setting and characters are vastly different.

As I read I also enjoyed one of the advantages of verse novels—how quickly the pages slipped by. I read through this 338-page tome in mere hours.

The book touches on lots of topics:
– What it was like to be an African American girl in the U.S. in the 60s and 70s (Woodson was born in 1963). This book was a great empathy builder for me.

– Family—what is a family, how family members relate to each other, the joy of being together. The family theme runs deeply and widely through the book. I loved the mini family album of photos at the end of the book and the fact that the pictures were of family members as children—about the age that the target audience would be.

“Football Dreams,” about her father, is a poem about family:

Football Dreams

No one was faster
than my father on the football field.
No one could keep him
from crossing the line. Then
touching down again.
Coaches were watching the way he moved,
his easy stride, his long arms reaching
up, snatching the ball from its soft pockets
of air.

Read the rest…

Feeling different is another theme. Not only was Woodson’s color a source of difference, but she was brought up Jehovah’s Witness. “Flag” tells about having to leave the classroom when the students made the flag pledge but how inside she wanted to be there and pledge big:

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Alina and I want
more than anything to walk back into our classroom
press our hands against our hearts. Say,
“I pledge allegiance . . .” loud…”

The poem ends:

When the pledge is over, we walk single file
back into the classroom, take our separate seats
Alina and I far away from Gina. But Gina
always looks back at us—as if to say,
I’m watching you. As if to say,
I know.

Read entire…

The book tackles more themes including death, tolerance, and finding joy in life, relationships and one’s passion.

On this page of her website Ms. Woodson gives a bit more information about writing the book.

This was a beautiful, upbeat, and  educational read that would be perfect for children in the middle grades–ages 10 and up, Grades 5 and up.

Brown Girl Dreaming won the National Book Award in 2014. (In the second video on the linked page she reads from the book.)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the lovely Irene Latham at Live Your Poem.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2016 in Book Reviews, People, Poetry Friday

 

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The Longsuffering of Old Bibles (NPM ’16-Day 20)

Do you have a collection of old Bibles in your house? We do. Old Bibles in various versions stand neatly on shelves in the basement. They can also be found stacked with other books on my bedside table, buried in trunks, and in my study. I’ve found a slim New Testament in an old purse and tract-size copies of the Gospel of John with a bunch of brochures.

When, some time ago, Diane Lockward’s newsletter contained a poetry prompt with the lament of old wedding dresses, I decided my lament of old things would old Bibles. “The Longsuffering of Old Bibles” is the result.

What should one do to rejuvenate (our Spiritual Journey Thursday word for today) old Bibles? I wish I could send mine to places on earth where people are longing for just one Bible. Trouble is, they usually don’t want them in English but in their mother tongue.

How do you rejuvenate your old Bibles?

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The Longsuffering of Old Bibles

They stand upright, next to each other
the leather NIV beside the family King James
the paperback Message beside the patterned Phillips,
in fellowship and righteous support
version rivalries long forgotten.
On dark nights their longings
rise from the bookshelf, hover
a myrrh lament in the air:
How long, O Lord?
Will they forget us forever?

Sometimes the old Scofield
will whisper memories of past mornings
when light from his pages blended
with light from the sun
and he was written in, marked up, and lined.
I even have the stain of tears,
he says one day. The hardly touched Living
finds this hard to believe
but the Illustrated Children’s smiles
recalling her own rips and scribbles.

Who will read them now? Who will find them?
The wine leather birthday Bible, gold-embossed
in its zippered cover with pockets and pen holders?
The weighty red study Bible
at the bottom of a pile somewhere?
The first Bible—where is it,
what closet, what box?
Where is the burgundy New Testament
gifted in Grade 5, the one with the gold jug
on the cover? Languishing on the shelf
of a thrift store perhaps
or giving tattered testimony to the dump?

From closet floor to attic trunk
with eternal patience, faith, and hope they wait:
We have family members in hotel drawers…
Our pages could still be scattered as packing, wrapping…
One of us once even revived, with his leaves,
the cleaner of latrines in a faraway prison.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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This is not a new poem, but was written before this poetry month. It recently won an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Christian Poetry Contest sponsored by Utmost Christian Writers. Go HERE to see the list of winners and read more winning poems (they’re good—you’ll love them!).

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Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Photo: Pixabay.com

 

 
 

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Christmas Seed

Christmas candle

Christmas Seed

(For K.)

All day you walk, trudge, shuffle, stumble, limp
and yet not ever do you leave My sight.
I see the slightest quiver of past’s corpse
when through the haze you think, It’s Christmas night.

I lead you then to Oppenheimer Park
where friends of Mine are serving soup and gifts.
I nudge the girl, get her to catch your eye.
The parcel’s in your hand, you feel its heft.

My heart applauds when you snap golden bow
peel off the amethyst and ruby wrap.
Your happy smile shines through the rain and cold.
This lovely candle will become a crop.

For you are worthy, loved and beautiful.
And though you have no home to bring it to
this gift is just a start, My darling girl
of the sweet home to which I’m leading you.

© 2013 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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This year our church’s Christmas production had several people telling stories of significant Christmases in their lives. One was K., who told of how she went from drinking socially at the Press Club—a Vancouver bar were the journalists hung out—to all-out addiction. She ended up homeless on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

She told about how between getting what she needed, she walked a lot. One Christmas night that walking took her to Oppenheimer Park. There people were handing out gifts. She got a package of candles. “I was so delighted,” she said. “They reminded me that I liked beautiful things.”

Now, about five years later, she is sober, back working as a journalist, and involved in our church’s Sunday night Recovery Church campus.

I believe what happened to her that night was part of a beautiful plan. In this poem I tried to tell her story from the viewpoint of the One who orchestrated that plan.

My hope for you is that the One who found K. that Christmas night is also part of your Christmas! May it be Merry!

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Christmas, Religious

 

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