Little Suns Everywhere

Let’s Turn Off the Porch Light

 

Dappled brown moths

wooly as Grammy’s needlepoint

whirl around the bulb,

winged pilgrims desperate

for union with the Holy.

 

Little suns everywhere

lure us to the surface of things

where we burn for lack of shadows,

mistaking the blaze of want

for a larger love.

Laura Grace Weldon

Originally published in Shot Glass Journal.  Find more poems in my collection, Tending.

Coyote Voices

coyote poem

Feral

 

Moonlight leaks through the curtains.

I lie awake, listen to coyote songs

circle and connect, stitching together

the night’s raw edges.

 

Each time I hear their howls

my bone marrow sings.

What’s muzzled in me lifts.

I seem silent and still,

yet my pulse races through the trees.

Laura Grace Weldon

 

Originally written for the Peace Postcard Project, published in Shot Glass Journal.  Find more poems in my collection, Tending.

 

A Backpackful of Nothing

teenaged boys, seeking freedom

Backpack, by benson3k4

Why Bottles Litter Interstate Hillsides

 

On a steep slope behind an ODOT fence

meant to keep deer off the road,

suburban boys gather. Each brings

microbrews found in upscale fridges

or energy drinks sloshed with vodka.

They lean away from the ground’s tilt.

Drink, brag, smoke, jeer, jostle for position.

 

The highway courses endlessly below them,

overpasses and underpasses heading six directions,

every vehicle steering away.

Traffic noise fills the night, fills their bodies,

amps up a signature restlessness.

In earlier eras, boys their age claimed

homesteads, climbed ship rigging,

set type, shaped glass, forged iron.

Instead they’re here on this cold night,

words steam

fading into exhaust-heavy air.

 

Every day in every boy’s memory,

they’ve been graded on doing

a backpackful of nothing.

Here they snap saplings, toss bottles,

sometimes hoist the drunkest kid

halfway over the fence. They’re told

you’ve got your whole life ahead of you

but wonder, unspoken, how they’ll ever

muster enough speed to merge

onto the lanes taking them there.

Laura Grace Weldon

 

Originally published by Rise Up Review.  Find more poetry in my collection, Tending. 

36 Poetry-Infused Movies

36 poetry-infused films

You don’t have to stretch your movie-watching habits far to include movies infused with poetry. Here’s a short, by no means comprehensive list.

 

Biopics (often loosely) based on poets’ lives

Neruda  dramatizes the search for the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet during the 1940’s, when he became a fugitive in his own country due to his Communist leanings.

A Quiet Passion explores Emily Dickinson’s life from her school days to her later years.

Kill Your Darlings looks at a 1944 murder that draws together beat generation poets Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.

Howl looks at the 1957 obscenity trial against Allen Ginsberg.

Set Fire to the Stars portrays a week in 1950, when aspiring poet John Brinnin takes his idol, Dylan Thomas, on a retreat in hopes of readying the legendary poet for a series of poetry readings in the U.S.

Reaching for the Moon  Elizabeth Bishop took a trip to Rio in 1951, intending to stay only long enough to battle her drinking problem, but met and fell in love with famed architect Lota de Macedo Soares, staying 20 years.

Total Eclipse is a dramatized account of Arthur Rimbaud’s affair with Paul Verlaine.

Sylvia tells of the relationship between poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

The Basketball Diaries is a harrowing story of athleticism, addiction, and redemption based on poet Jim Carroll’s autobiography.

Barfly is based on Charles Bukowski tumultuous life.

Before Night Falls is adapted from the memoir of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, who was jailed for ‘ideological deviation’ and forced to denounce his own work.

Piñero tells the story of Puerto Rican poet-playwright Miguel Piñero, whose urban poetry is recognized as a forerunner to rap and hip-hop.

An Angel at my Table tells the story of Nene Janet Paterson Clutha, a New Zealand woman who published under the name Janet Frame.  After years of psychiatric institutionalization, Frame was scheduled for a lobotomy that was cancelled when, just days before the procedure, her début publication of short stories was unexpectedly awarded a national literary prize.

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle brings the Algonquin Round Table to life in this portrayal of Dorothy Parker.

Tom & Viv depicts  T. S. Eliot‘s brief marriage to muse Vivienne Haigh-Wood.

Endless Poetry portrays Alejandro Jodorowsky’s young adulthood of the 1940s and 50s, in the electric capital city of Santiago. There, he decides to become a poet and is introduced into the bohemian and artistic circle of the time.

 

 

Movies inspired by poems

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the Coen brothers’ version of Homer’s “Odyssey.”

Mulans story comes from the ancient Chinese poem “The Ballad of Mulan.”

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe  has been made into several movies, the most recent starring John Cusack.

Jabberwocky is a poem found in Lewis Carroll’s novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. The nonsense poem added words such as “chortle” and “galumphing” to the English language.  This nonsense movie is directed by Monty Python alumnus Terry Gilliam.

Much Ado About Nothing, OthelloHamlet, well, there are dozens of movies versions of Shakespeare’s poetic plays. Dozens more are based on his work, including The Lion KingShe’s the Man, and Akira Kurosawa’s Ran

Beowulf comes from the oldest surviving epic poem of Old English.

Bright Star is inspired by a poem of the same name by John Keats, about his love for Fanny Brawne.

Braveheart is based on the the epic written by makar Blind Harry, “The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace.”

Troy is based on Homer’s epic Iliad.

Horton Hears a Who! or any of the Dr. Seuss movies, are all based on the imaginatively rhyming books by Theodor Seuss Geisel.

 

 

Movies about poetry

Paterson takes place during one week of a poetry-writing bus driver’s life, and includes a meeting with a stranger who loves poetry.

Poetry, detailing an elderly woman’s first poem, gets a rare 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Elling is a deadpan comedic Norwegian film about two men, Elling and Kjell,  who are released from a state institution. Elling discovers he is a poet and bring his work to the public in an unusual way.

Henry Fool is about an ex-convict who encourages a friend to become a poet.

Poetic Justice includes several poems by Maya Angelou.

Big Bad Love highlights the struggles of a poet and writer dealing with his own war memories and alcoholism. Based on the short stories of Mississippi writer Larry Brown, Brown’s own poems and those of William Carlos Williams, are in the film.

Slam is about a young man’s dedication to spoken word poetry after his release from prison.

Dead Poets SocietyRobin Williams plays an English teacher in an East Coast boys’ prep school who inspires his students to love poetry, among other life lessons. The film, which popularized the tradition of carpe diem poems, features verse by Frost, Tennyson, and Shakespeare.

Shakespeare in LoveThe endeavors of a young William Shakespeare, with allusions to Shakespeare’s later work.

The Kindergarten Teacher is the story of an Israeli kindergarten teacher who is convinced that one of her students is a poetry prodigy, and becomes obsessed with what she perceives as his ability.

 

Finally, Then

poem for procrastinators

 

Finally, Then

 

After dinner is over, dishes clean,

their porcelain lips stacked in smiles

behind the cupboard door.

 

After your desk is organized,

emails sent, final draft finished,

your to-do list a flock of check marks,

migratory birds flapping

down the column and out

to the horizon of a light-suffused land

called Everything is Done.

 

Finally, you can do whatever it is

you say you’ve always wanted to do.

Or not said, because naming can sometimes

dilute a dream’s dark essence.

 

But there’s bank overdraft to fix,

unread library books to return,

another doctor’s appointment,

and these days when you accelerate,

your car makes a screaming noise

like a small trapped animal.

You can picture its curled body

and dark eyes, terrified your speed

will toss it onto the moving parts

of a machine made only to go.

Maybe, after you get it fixed,

clear up a few other things,

finally, then, you’ll have time.

Laura Grace Weldon

 

Originally published by Great Lakes Review.  Find more poetry in my collection, Tending. 

 

Mathematical Improbabilities

 

Welcome

 

Eyes, fingertips, tongues

form one from two.

Yield three.

 

You.

 

Snowflake fingerprints,

tiny palms creased with foreknowledge,

DNA whirling proteins

into the plot of a new story.

 

Despite vast mathematical improbabilities

here you are.

Your mother’s hundred thousand eggs

your father’s five trillion sperm,

a one-in-five-hundred-million-million-million

chance of your existence.

 

Our gladness is incalculable.

 

Laura Grace Weldon

 

Find more poetry in my collection, Tending. 

Peace Postcard Project

Handmade card by Mimi Shapiro, sent for 2016 Peace Postcard Project

Handmade card by Mimi Shapiro, sent for 2016 Peace Postcard Project

“Peace poems can lead to peace-filled conversations and guide our thoughts and efforts in the months ahead.”  What a delight to open my email and find Carla Shafer’s message. Carla is a poet, founder of the Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, and originating collaborator of Bellingham Repertory Dance Company of Phrasings: In Word and Dance, an annual event combining poetry and modern dance.

Last year she was inspired  to launch Peace Postcard Project after participating in World Poetry Canada’s poetathon. A peace enthusiast and mail exchange fan, I signed up as soon as I heard about it.

The concept was simple. I was put into a group of 28 writers who pledged to send one another an original poem each day in February. The practice was a lovely way to slow down, focus on peace, and send out the result. I didn’t think much about writers doing the same until lovely, soul-stirring postcards starting arriving. I’ve saved every one. I want to share them all here but will try to restrain myself.

Peace Postcard Project

An array of postcards from all over.

And oh, these words!

And oh, these words!

If you’re interested in taking part, you’ve got only a few days to register.

Peace Poetry Postcard Month   February 2017

JOIN poets from around the world (28 to a group) and send one of your original peace poems on a postcard for the 28 days of February.  Sign-up by January 30! 

To SIGN UP, send an email to worldpeacepoets@gmail.com 

Use the subject line: Peace Postcards

In the body of the e-mail provide:

Your Name, Street Address, City, State, Country and Postal Code.

For every 28 poets who sign up, a group is formed. You will receive an e-mail with your list as soon as your group reaches 28 names and addresses.

Process:

  1. On the first day of February (or before) write an original poem on a post card of your choice and send it to the person whose name is listed below your name.
  2. Proceed down the list sending a new post card every day.
  3. Circle back to the top of the list until you come back to your own name.
  4. It’s that easy!

Postage:

  • From the U.S. International postage is 1.20 per card or 4 first class forever stamps.
  • Within the US, postcard stamps at 0.35 (cents)

Prompts:

Original poems about peace in these anxious times. You may also be inspired by a postcard you have received or by a prompt listed at World Peace Poets Facebook page. (Feel welcome to post your peace poem and comments on the World Peace Poets FB page if you wish.)

You might want to write poems with a child or a neighbor. You might want to post poems you’ve received on your fridge, on social media, on a community bulletin board.  As Carla said in an interview with the Bellingham Herald,  “Every time people speak their hopes, address their losses and fears and listen to each other, we are taking a step toward peace.”

Ways of Speaking

faith like a spider

 

Ways of Speaking

 

I’m weary of those who talk

in slogans stamped and packed

by someone else, like

long distance truckers paid to drive

without knowing the weight

hauled onto that dark highway.

 

I want to walk, instead

where I can read the body’s slow knowing.

Where each thing watched long speaks aloud.

 

A spider tossed by the breeze reaches one strand

thin as faith. As it takes hold she dances between twigs

and waits within a design both beginning and end.

When the web breaks she begins again

tiny legs speaking in ways

we’re meant to hear.

 

Laura Grace Weldon

Find this and other poems in my collection, Tending. 

 

Oil & Gas Pipeline Closing In On Our Township

oil and gas pipeline through rural areas

No! No! No! 

Pipeline Protest 

 

Its name is Nexus,

from the Latin

meaning to bind, fasten, tie.

The pipeline, nearly as wide

as a kindergartener is tall,

will cut through

dairy farms and backyards,

hurtling high-pressure

danger for profit. Always profit.

 

Maybe it’s another wake-up call,

like the one Bush offered

by invading a sovereign nation;

brutalizing the Iraqi people

we claimed to be saving.

Brutalizing ourselves.

 

Of course we keep hitting

the snooze button.

Waking up isn’t easy.

Birds flounder

in oily waters

and we’re desperate

to sleep a little longer.

 

Today you and I stand

amidst hand-lettered signs:

Windmills Not Oil Spills,

Eminent Domain=Greed,

Fuck Fracking.

Cold wind brings tears to our eyes.

 

Fear brings us here. Anger too.

And bone-deep grief

for this lovely lovely planet.

Awakening shows us a million ways

to climb past despair.

I want us to do it for love.

 

Laura Grace Weldon

 

Originally published in the Blue Collar Review. Find more poetry in my collection, Tending. 

 

  • Here’s more about the Nexus pipeline including the route and blast radius in Ohio.
  • Here’s an article I wrote about how fracking might affect my family, and yours.  (First published on Wired.com.)
  • Here’s a glimpse at just how shady the oil and gas industry can be. More than 100 letters sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (FERC) in support of the pipeline are fakes, using names and addresses of Medina County residents who did not write them or sign them. A FERC project manager said the falsified letters would remain on the docket.
  • Here’s recent disheartening news. An appeals court, using a 65 year old Ohio law meant to facilitate the construction of utility infrastructure after World War II,  has ruled against the rights of property owners. This means pipeline surveyors are free to intrude on the yards and farms of 65 landowners who have actively objected. Yesterday armed security guards stood by as surveyors took measurements on a horse farm just south of the fairgrounds, a farm that’s bordered on three sides by wetlands and park property. As resident Paul Gierosky said in a recent article, “NEXUS is no more a utility than I’m an astronaut. This pipeline is not a public agency designed to service the people along its route. It’s a for-profit company that’s going to sell the gas to a foreign country.”
Image: Garry Knight, CC by 2.0

Image: Garry Knight, CC by 2.0

Summer Day at Huntington Beach

poem, Lake Erie shore

Summer Day at Huntington Beach

 

I tick with alarm clock worry.

My sister is afraid of nothing.

Not the dark or death or

Jay Preslan down the street

who pushes kids in front of cars.

 

Look at her run into the water

while I stand squinting.

She doesn’t pinch her nose

to dive under. Doesn’t pause

before splashing back

strange splashing kids. Doesn’t heed

the lifeguard’s megaphoned warning

to stay away from the ropes.

 

Lake Erie grabs at the shore,

slurps it greedily in foaming waves.

I picture monstrous goggly-eyed fish

lurking under the pier,

ships skudded in the depths,

lost sailors forever unburied.

I inhale the curved scent

of suntan lotion, clench my toes

in the sand, stand still. Far out,

bobbing in foil-bright waves,

my sister is another being entirely,

straining at the boundary ropes

trying to see all the way to Canada.

 

Originally published by Silver Birch Press.  Find more poems in my collection, Tending.