Tuesday, August 29, 2023

#PoetryPals August Challenge

Have you ever heard of an exquisite corpse poem? It has a strange name but it does not have anything to do with spooky happenings. It is a collaborative poetry game. For the August Challenge, the Poetry Sisters: Tanita Davis, Sara Holmes, Liz Scanlon, Mary Lee Hahn, Tricia Stohr-Hunt, Laura Purdie Salas, and Kelly Ramsdell collaborated to create an Exquisite Draft and also their own individual poems. Poetry Pals: Michelle Kogan and Linda Mitchell also partnered to write their own version. Since my time was limited this month I decided to use the Exquisite Draft that the Poetry Sisters wrote and branch off on my own. If you visit Linda Baie's Poetry Friday blog, you can find the individual poems from the above poets. 

An Exquisite Draft by Tanita, Sara, Liz, Mary Lee, Tricia, and Laura

They say the mind is garden-like, with thoughts as sprouting seeds
*but I’m left holding cuttings I’m not sure where to plant
Weedy-thick, the prickly buds of odd logic bloom:
*You don’t cry anymore, but you sing all the words.
Each line in a different language as the light shifts,
*trees turned so orange the road looked blue.
Words tangle, colors muddy in the palette.
*I am no longer winsome to the sun.
*a whole sun’s rise to share
there goes the one that got away
*found a bit of sunflower
and plucked every petal (by the way, he loves me)
and then I remembered
*That’s what you wrote about the green beans
Stockpile, then, that snap and sass to sweeten your September.

I took wording from the draft poem to create a nostalgic moment about my Nonnie's garden. I superimposed my text on a digitized original photo of one section of my Long Island garden. 

A Look Back
My draft with thanks to the Poetry Sisters' creative challenge
*Excuse the typo error with the word lonesome. 

With the start of a new school year, teachers might consider using mentor text to help students compose their own versions of a topic using a specific poetic format, the Exquisite Corpse poem. I now join Two Writing Teachers, a reflective community of writers, and hope to get feedback on what I wrote since this is the first time I played with this poetic form.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Being in the Moment

Have you ever wanted to drift away on a pool float or an inflatable device during the summer? I often think of the times I laid on a lounge chair listening to the ripple of my turquoise vase cascading waterfall instead of rushing around trying to catch upTo just be in the moment without disturbances is a calming experience.  

I quietly reflect bringing me back to memories of several delightful family vacations in Cape May. While on the beach a few weeks ago, I watched three dolphins splashing in the Atlantic Ocean. Although they did not jump up out of the water, their splashing caused many beach lovers to stare into the waves and marvel at nature. More memories float in of many by-the-sea days digging my toes in the sand while reading novels. There is so much relaxation and renewal while enjoying beach time.

 Mind Emptying to Feel Calm

Tomorrow I shall listen
to nature's whisperings
undaunted by unfinished tasks.
Sleep, please help me remember
the promises I made to myself.
©CVarsalona, 2023
Another way to empty my mind is to write poetry. The Summer Poem Swap under the event creator, Tabatha Yeatts, has been a creative venture into "being". I enjoy the time alone designing and writing for partners. The third swap was delightful since my partner, Rose Cappelli, and I share similar interests, traveling to Cape May, NJ, gardening, and nature. Below is the creative and bountiful gift Rose sent to me.

 Paper Flowers to adorn my buffet, seeds for my garden, and an Edna St. Vincent Millay Postcard for inspiration (read the poem below)

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my
friends-it gives a lovely light!

The floral card Rose sent has a lovely note and a Mary Oliver poem.

See an Original Poem by Rose below. It is full of visuals and inspiration
The stain happened while I was enjoying both Rose's poem and a cup of tea.

My last Summer Poem Swap was sent out today to Carol Labuzetta today.
The photo above is from our host of Poetry Friday this week, Linda Baie.

The temperature in Denver is 100 degrees but this does not stop Linda from celebrating her grandson's movement to the adult world of work and her granddaughters' transitions to upper grades. Linda shares thoughts from her heart in an original poem titled Resistance. Please saunter over to Linda's blog post, TeacherDance, where you find her poetic goodness and hospitality plus poetic posts from other writers.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Tranquility at the Cape May Beach

My recent trip to Cape May Beach was the balm needed to slow down, refresh, and renew. The grittiness of the warm sand and the sinking feeling of burying my toes brought back memories of days at the Long Island, NY shore. Rolling waves sparkled under a blue sky filled with billowy clouds. Lapping noises rolled against the beach. The rhythmic motion soothed my soul. Nature whispered softly, sometimes loudly depending on its mood. Streams of light filtered from the beach to the dinner venue across the street from the beach.

sun streams while dining
tranquility surrounds
evening celebrates
©CVarsalona, 2023

Pause here to listen to the sound of the Atlantic Ocean waves washing ashore
and find some virtual tranquility at the shore.

Molly Hogan hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup with a bouquet of haikus and gorgeous photos of late summer in Maine. I enjoyed her celebratory post and hope you do also. Click here to see what Molly offers and find more poetic goodness from the Poetry Friday writers.

I have a Summer Poem Swap with Rose Cappelli that I will share in another Poetry Friday post. I also will share my book review of Irene Latham's fabulous new picture book with its unique perspective on items on the moon.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Summer In My Heart

It's August and what better way to spend the dog days of summer than by the shore. The ocean has a certain lure. Perhaps, it is the lull of the ocean waves or the peace that surrounds a day at the beach. Ever since we left the beauty of Long Island's south shore beaches, we miss the ocean more and more. Each summer, we indulge in a family trip to Cape May, New Jersey set against the Atlantic Ocean. Below you will find various photos of the splendor of Cape May's beach area.

Summer In My Heart

I breathe in the heat of summer,
Revile in waves rushing to shore.
Search for shells, unique newcomers.
Duck from gulls who search, shriek, and soar.

I wiggle my toes in warm sand,
Watch billowy clouds pass on by,
Indulge in August's sunkissed land,
Long for fresh blueberry peach pie.
Summer remains forever in
Grateful hearts filled with endless joy.
Be inspired. Dive in. Begin.
Embrace each summer day, Enjoy
©CVarsalona, 2023, draft

by Tabatha Yeatts

Thank you, Tabatha Yeatts, for hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up this week. Travel to her blog post The Opposite of Indifference, to see a poem that will make you laugh. I am signing in late for the Roundup because we were traveling home from our enjoyable summer vacation at the beach. 

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Turn and Reflect In August

The last day of the month of July turned into a forty-seventh-anniversary celebration even after weeks of a lingering cough. While we could not travel to a pre-determined destination site in Virginia, I made the most of the anniversary weekend by turning my attention to family and spiritual thoughts. 

Yesterday, Linda Mitchell, this month's host of Spiritual Journey Thursday, shared her topic for the SJT community. She offered a single word, TURNING, for us to reflect upon this month. 

During COVID I missed attending church in person. While the virtual experience provided an opportunity for my family to bond together, I missed the community mingling, friends gathering, and the spiritual presence of the Lord. Lately, we have attended Mass in several churches. Upon entering the church, I felt once again the power of a spiritual place filled with peace. This past Sunday of our anniversary weekend, we traveled to a beautiful church where my two grandchildren were baptized. Unbeknown to me, my daughter planned on attending with her newborn baby girl. I was so surprised to see them joining us in our pew. With a smile, I held the baby in my arms and prayed with a thankful heart for family and the peace surrounding us. When I turned to all during the sign of peace, I knew that I was in a sacred place.

Upon reminiscing about the baby in church with the family, the Byrds song, Turn! Turn! Turn!, popped into my mind. It is one of my favorite songs with such beautiful lines as an opener.
To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under Heaven. 

It is my turn to pause and reflect. Thoughts become a vivid whirlwind. I feel a calmness. I turn away from circumstances and problems that do not provide solace and peace. I accept the open-door invitation to rest and be. I look forward to the family vacation in Cape May, New Jersey at the shore. I honor the spaces that bring joy and contentment to me. In the silence of the night, I turn to read an article, The Spirit of a Place by Bahram Akradi (ExperienceLife.com). I take a pen in hand and list in order words and phrases from the article that inspires me. From this exercise, a found poem evolves. Its words speak to me; I refine thoughts that will become a turning point this summer, bringing me to peace.  

The spirit of a place
Welcomes a necessary shift in life,
Allows us to reflect on time, and 
Recognize the value of place.
The spirit of a place adds
Meaning and value to 
the process of nurturing our lives.
We can discover who we are
and feel the energy in each space
That has a soul. 
Be stillIdentify those places.
Be present in the quietude.
Choose sacred places;
Find possibilities.
Become the best version
of self.
©CVarsalona, 2023 

I sit and ponder a Bible scripture, "Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor dressed like one of these." -Luke 12:27  Wildflowers stand tall in nature's meadows and pathways. They bask in the beauty of their sacred place while turning toward the sun, soaking in its brilliance. I find peace in this thought knowing that turning heavenward brings a measure of serenity. The spirit of places like nature's landscapes, insides of homes, and churches connect me to concepts such as warmth, love, and tranquility. These places lift me up and inspire me. I choose to find possibilities in life in the spirit of a place. Join me to find your best version of yourself in a sacred place of joy. If inclined, share a photo or image poem of your favorite summer place that brings you contentment. 

Now I join Linda Mitchel and the Spiritual Journey Thursday Community here.

Spiritual Journey Thursday
Photo by Linda Mitchell


Today is a double dose of inspiration and poetic goodness.
I also join the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by teacher, author, poet, and embroiderer, Mary Lee Hahn. Below is an inspiring sample of her work.



Sent from Marcie Flinchum Atkins
Little does Marcie know that this card cheered me up since I have been under the weather for 2 1/2 weeks now.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Summertime Peace

It's August already. July slipped by under a halo of heat and tissues. I flip-flopped between feeling healthy enough and ready to enjoy summer's charms to wondering if I would ever stop being attacked by allergens in the air. It's been three weeks of allergy meds, inhalers, and not feeling right but Sunday starts a week of breathing in sea air and tossing worries into the Atlantic Ocean. I can imagine the breathing view of Cape May's painted ladies proudly facing the beach. We already missed a well-planned anniversary weekend trip to the Chesapeake shore in Virginia so I am eager to find tranquility at the Jersey Shore next week. 

ocean waves ripples
sunkissed sands meet endless seas
peace floats within
©CVarsalona, 2023 - Photo by Terje Akke

A while ago, my long-distance teacher/writer friend, Terje Akke, shared a photo of Estonia. Her picture provided a few moments of evolving peace. I've kept the photo of the beach scene waiting for the right moment for a small poem to appear. I dedicate this image poem to Terje with the hopes she has found time to just be this summer.

Time to Just Be
a feather light to touch
shares space with summer sand
summer nurtures souls
©CVarsalona, 2023


May the month of August bring summertime peace to all!

It's the Tuesday Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers a place to reflect and meet up with educators around the globe.