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Several poems that caught my breath

I have been reading and writing poetry lately.  Here are a few poems that made me stop and just enjoy them.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean– the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver, The House Light Beacon Press Boston, 1990.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you have ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott, Collected Poems 1948-1984, New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1986.

They say she is veiled

They say she is veiled
and a mystery.  That is
one way of looking.
Another
is that she is where
she always has been, exactly in place,
and it is we,
we who are mystified,
we who are veiled
and without faces.

Judy Grahn, from: love belongs to those that do the feeling, Los Angeles, Red Hen Press 2008

Visual Poetry

ABSTRACTVisual poetry is poetry or art in which the visual arrangement of text, images and symbols is important in conveying the intended effect of the work. It is sometimes referred to as concrete poetry, a term that predates visual poetry, and at one time was synonymous with it.

visual poetry
Visual poetry was heavily influenced by Fluxus, which is usually described as being Intermedia. Intermedia work tends to blur the distinctions between different media, and visual poetry blurs the distinction between art and text. Whereas concrete poetry is still recognizable as poetry, being composed of purely typographic elements, visual poetry is generally much less text-dependent. Visual poems incorporate text, but the text may have primarily a visual function. Visual poems often incorporate significant amounts of non-text imagery in addition to text.
There remains some debate regarding the distinction between concrete poetry and visual poetry. There are three dominant views regarding the issue. One view is that visual poetry is synonymous with concrete poetry. A second view is that visual poetry is a type (or sub-category) of concrete poetry. And the last view is that visual poetry has evolved into a visual form distinct from concrete poetry. This view is supported by work identified as visual poetry in which typographic elements are secondary to visual elements, are minimal, or in some cases are absent altogether from the work.

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psithuristic

up through the trees

Moving with formless fluttering
a gentle snapping
crisp pines accommodating
the psithuristic wind
like silk moving
over flesh and bone

Your call
a sirens song
dissonant conversation
you rustle through the trees
questing
trees giving a soft lament
yielding
dancing with the wind

Susurrous melody of green
gently
whispering stories
murmurs
fingering the pines

Tousling leaves
tossing toward extremes
passionate expression
a lashing
chaotic flurry
howling
the crack
whip like limbs

Riven
a forest yielding
surrendering
to the sirens fury
bend so as not to be broken

Soughing endurance
the whistle of an elaborated new story
wisdom earned through survival
experience
flexible and strong
the rings are thicker here
where the need was greatest

soft sounds meld into
a flowing melody
natures nebulous discourse
mollient and silken
slow winds whined
through the trees

*Art and Poetry Copyright 2014 Lyssa Danehy deHart

Opening the Window of Tolerance for Calm – Part II

In this second part of Opening the Window of Tolerance for Calm, I am going to discuss a few tools.

Here’s the first new tool.  The technique is called Pendulation and it is often used to help people who have experienced trauma.  The purpose of this particular exercise is to help learn to shift our attention, giving us some control over our focus of attention.  This is a technique that asks people to shift their attention from a slightly uncomfortable situation, to a calming relaxing one.  Shifting their attention back and forth.  It is a little like working a muscle.

An example of this technique might be, when I hear the phone ring, or car horns, or a dog bark, I tense up.  Choose one tension causing situation, I choose the phone ringing.   I move my attention to the phone ringing that mildly bothers me, feeling my body and just recognizing how it feels.  Then I shift my attention to something that makes me feel relaxed, it might be the sound of a stream, or the ocean.  In my case I think about being outside on a beautiful warm comfortable day, looking up through trees.  I can see the sun twinkling between the leaves.  I really allow myself to be in this comfortable space.  Then I shift my attention back to the phone ringing.  Doing this pendulation, back and forth, between what annoys me and what relaxes me and practicing it for a few minutes.

The reason we start slow with a mild irritation is that we will do this often over time.  The goal is to build the muscle of our brain, flexing the wiring of our brain and increasing our tolerance for calm.  Several of my clients call it Brain Exercise.  Empowering us to know we can shift our minds, attention, and emotions from a tense situation to a calm one.  In this step, we have started the process of managing our emotional states.  And, in the example I just gave, moving from the emotional tension of the phone to the calm trees, the goal is to increase my ability to be in a calm space.  Some trauma is too great for us to tackle alone, and you may need to seek professional help.  But, for many people this technique can help them begin to manage their reactions.  I will be putting this technique into one of my podcast’s, so you may want to listen to it.