a twist on the photo challenge

How to capture the manifestation of “express yourself” when it’s a poem? By piling up all my journals into a nice little bed.

And writing a poem, of course.

click on the picture to read the poem


I visited Emily Dickinson’s home this weekend, a tremendous treat for me since she’s one of my favorite poets. It was a delightful way to spend a little time indoors on a rainy New England afternoon. I loved seeing the little bits of history they had there, but I especially enjoyed a little moment upstairs in her bedroom, where I stood at the window and looked out at the field she must have gazed upon a million times. The docent explained she was playful and would call to the neighborhood children playing out there and lower a little basket of gingerbread to them.

What a quirky thing! I loved the thought of a playful Emily, laughing in that room.

I also liked hearing about it — that somehow enough of her life was recorded that these kinds of stories could be shared. I wondered what people might say about me when I’m gone. I hope they say I liked to laugh. And I was kind.

What about you? What would people say about your life?

I had no time to hate, because
The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I
Could finish enmity.

Nor had I time to love, but since
Some industry must be,
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me.

a surprise poem

The best part of teaching literature is discovering new favorite poets. Here’s an excerpt from Gates and Other Poems by Sister M. Madeleva Wolff, C.S.C. You might recognize her name; she served as president of St. Mary’s College in South Bend in the early part of the 20th century.

Fare infinitely well,
You who have valorously dared
This last, unshared
Unending and all-perfect quest;
You who at length can tell
The things God has prepared
Are best,
Are best.


Something about the half-lit space
invites silence. Sacred and calm.

Sunlight, muted through treated windows,
still manages to splash into the scene —
its sepia-colored tint adding depth
to a landscape filled with shadows.

The silence, at home, speaks
to the darkened corners as
the expanding light blankets
everything with its warmth.

Aubade at half-past six on a cold winter morning


Dawn’s first light shivers
through half-opened blinds,
creating new patterns
on our old blanket.

The rise and fall of your chest
tethers me to the moment
tighter than the memory
of your warm embrace.

I get up anyway
and make the coffee.

An aubade is a morning love song when lovers part…this isn’t strictly an aubade, but it’ll do. I wanted to capture the ordinariness of a longtime marriage in the old blanket, the warmth of physical intimacy, the sacrifice of loving service. I’ll try a few more in the coming weeks.

I’m in TWO places this week, well, three

Besides the usual train wreck at Catholic Weekend,

click Tino the Cat
click Tino the Cat

you can read my poetry at CatholicLane.com,

click on the title to read the poem
click on the title to read the poem

and read about my Advent-fail at CatholicMom.com

Click on the candles to read the piece at CatholicMom.com
Click on the candles to read the piece at CatholicMom.com

in which Twitter inspires a poem

Heaven smells like
brown sugar and cinnamon,
Don’t you think?

And if it doesn’t,
what then?

It must smell like
fresh rain, then.
Or my grandmas’s kitchen
on a Saturday afternoon.

It could smell like a baby
after a warm bath,
part soap,
part lotion,
part angel.

Or firewood
on a cold night.

Salty air
at the beach.

A field of wildflowers
on a breezy day.

Heaven, I think,
will smell like home.