Hope

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Hope, acrylic on watercolor paper, 18X24, Lex Leonard

 

Sky opened to cede its tiny mandalas of ice blessing all below

Beet and cabbage paused, tomato and corn stilled

Is this the most remarkable thing you have ever seen

Laden morsels alight melting in summer’s heat
Most of them drying under sun’s guidance
intense in their purpose to bring relief
from season’s hymn

Vegetables sigh, give thanks, and resume

 

Author’s Note:

Our writing group was to bring a prompt, a line from a book.  I found this line from Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume the perfect one for me to use. It was not my prompt, but now I will read the book.

The beet is the most intense of vegetables.
from Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

The time given to write was twenty minutes. I took the line and wrote it down the page. I then wrote my poem beginning each line with the word from the prompt. Of course, through editing, things get changed around a bit. moved around, deleted and refined. You can still see remnants of the prompt. Thank you, Tom Robbins, for the inspiration.

And my painting, Hope, sprung from the poem.

In Honor

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In Honor, acrylic and ink on watercolor paper, 18″ X24″, by Lex Leonard

In Honor

In the mornings, I have been hearing drums
and singing in just about all directions.
Those Lakota Medicine Men are out there
praying for the World. Pine Ridge, SD, FaceBook

 

Even though I am not of First Nations here,
But born in this place
to parents of immigrants
Eastern Europe
who prayed to ancestors of their land
Lit candles
chanted
drummed
grew herbs
had knowing

Here, I grew up on dirt where First Nations
walk and pray
understand the land
have knowing

This land
of 13 Grandmothers calling us to be present
of Carmen, Apache Spirit Warrior, who breathes within ceremony
of James, Kaagegaabaw, who teaches us the Ojibwe way of words
of Zak Hoops and Sky, children who dance medicine
All to heal Earth

I honor them in their knowing
I bow in gratitude of their wisdom
I bend humbled by their grace

So I embrace
my knowing
color and line and words
All to heal Earth

Together in Spirit
we still ourselves to hear Earth’s heartbeat
That which gives us life

Together in Spirit
we create
That which gives us life

Together in Spirit we pray
do ceremony
journey
with those who walked before
who walk with us now
and who are to come
Those who give us life

For we are all One of Earth
May we walk this journey together
In mercy and compassion for all

ᔕᐌᓂᒥᔑᓈᒻ᙮
Zhawenimishinaam
‘bless, pity us;
have mercy, compassion for us;
show us loving-kindness and unconditional love’
James Vukelich, Ojibwe Word of the Day, Facebook

 

Author’s Note:

I spent the day working to heal.

I have been so inspired by our First Nation people who are in my life and those I follow or who have come across my feed here on Facebook. From Carmen Baraka to whom I am so grateful to be in my life, to James Vukelichin teaching Ojibwe Word of the Day, to children dancing to drums, to a simple quote. These all have been life-giving to me. I learn from them how to walk more lightly on this Earth in reverence, gratitude and compassion.

The lines you see under the paint are my own designed letters spelling out the prayer I have been using as much as possible all day long in everything I do.

May all beings
Be
Safe
Content
Healthy
Live in peace

Let Heal

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Let Heal, acrylic on watercolor paper, 16″ x 20″, Lex Leonard

 

Let Heal

Her hands were scratched, a little bloody. Not that she had silken hands. Quite the contrary. Her’s were worker hands and she wasn’t much for smelly lotions and potions to make one beautiful. She had more pressing matters to tend.

Her climb was more difficult than she remembered. The brush, thicker than usual. That was odd since water had been a bit scarce. But here she was, wiping her hands on her long blue cape that looked like night sky. A little dirt was a blessing. A bit of blood, a consecration.

Moving aside branches, she found a space just big enough to stand within. A circle. It was the calling place.

Looking around she saw the streets below darkened with fear and sadness. Was she looking at the land or within her heart?

Yes.

She felt their voices. A slight breeze. She raised her head.

Cradled, nursed
as in long ago on her mother’s sweet breast
a place of no worry
two of them
Source and child of hope

May all beings be safe

Cars ended their journey
a sigh of relief released into the ether
footsteps tiptoed not to wake the still
in and out, a mantra, Earth’s own breath

May all beings be at peace

A trickle of blood, life
a speck of pathogen, an ending
all beings connected to diagnosis
and curative

May all beings be healthy

Climb away from fear
allow it to rest at your feet
be still to hear their call
make room

May all beings live with grace

When sun nudged through the branches to stroke her cheek, she stood dropping her cape to feel the warmth.

The trip down the side of the shock would offer new perspective and nourish wisdom gained in her quarry.

Eavesdrop

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Eavesdrop

They rose like dinosaurs in the landscape. Long necks of hued metal reaching to the sky. Only their stillness speaking. He listened to them. He, the NightWatchman, the one who hears.

When Ray got the job, he celebrated. They went to Maya’s and the family ate their fill laughing, and later, singing together when the band arrived. Ah, that was a good time.

Ray looked at the monsters lined up ready for work in the morning. 

Strength. 

That’s what he heard as he listened to them. Moving iron beams into place with ease. Even grace. Ray admired that. Grace.

There were a few small clicks bantering back and forth, here and there. 

Ray knew this conversation.

The day was brutal with heat.  As sun set and moon rose, the cool of night made its way into cracks and crevasses between plates and screws. And the instruments relaxed from their craft. A release of all they had accomplished. 

Ray knew this conversation.

Cranes confessed in relief. Some more bold, almost bragging. Others, simply a sigh.

Ray understood.

He welcomes dark
As he moves through his sacred space
Knowing each turn by heart
Flashlight pocketed, ready if needed

The NightWatchman listens
For conversations
Eavesdropping on the day
That no longer speaks with voices
But is captured in silence
Making room for a deeper hearing
For those things forgotten, ignored,
un-acknowledged

The NightWatchman honors the
Unremarkable
Each creak and crack and skitter
knowing the story they tell

Ray reached for his keys, a ring of wonder.

“Hey, Ray, how do you know the right one?”

He smiles and moves on. 

The NightWatchman knows.

 

. . . . .

Author’s Note:

Each group of writers brings a wondrous array of gifts. Unique voices. Wisdom. Compassion. Vulnerability. If it is a strong group, always vulnerability.

We wrote from a simple word prompt: eavesdropping.

On my drive to the session I saw a row of cranes near a water plant all lined up in a multitude of colors. Just the necks, like brontosauruses all in a row waiting for a treat. And “night watchmen” from the radio jumped out and tickled my ear. I don’t hear that word much anymore.

And what was birthed came from those three inspirations today and a lot of support and love from the group.

Blessed be.

Tanka Peace

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The Place Where I Stand, acrylic, 40″ X 30″, Lex Leonard Artist

 

PEACE  POETRY POSTCARD MONTH
World Peace Poets

For three years I’ve  participated in the World Peace Poets’ annual February Peace Poetry Postcard Month where you sign up and receive the names and addresses of 28 or so poets from around the world who have also opted in. Each day you write a poem about peace on a postcard and send it to the next person on the list.

Last year I decided to do haikus because they fit easily onto the back of the postcards. 

This quote below from Michael Mead popped into my Facebook feed and that was my invitation.

“The ancient Irish had a saying: ‘You don’t give a man a weapon until you’ve taught him how to dance.’ In other words, a different kind of learning is required before someone can be truly trusted with social power and potent things like weapons. If a man does not know the wounds of his own soul, he can deny not just his own pain, but also be unmoved by the suffering of other people. More than that, he will tend to put his wound onto others. He may only be able to see the wound that secretly troubles him when he forcefully projects it into someone else, in forms of abuse or violence.

So in the old culture-making idea, in order to properly bear arms a person must first become disarmed, as in becoming vulnerable and connected to something meaningful and supportive of life. The idea of forging the temperament of young men took precedence over the idea of simply giving them weapons at a certain age. The tempering of the souls involved discovering what kind of anger each might carry and learning about the inner line where anger turned into blind rage. Becoming tempered also meant immersing in the sorrow of one’s life and thereby being in touch with the grief of the world.”

– Michael Meade

This month my tankas built off of this quote. It was a deep dive – a lectio divina of sorts – on this passage. There turned out to be an adjustment in participants. Sone left. Some arrived. I just kept all on my list, so there are 32 for this month of February.

And sometimes life calls for breaking from the form. The tankas are not “correct” and I finished the month early. I’m such a little rebel.

Tanka Peace 

 

“The ancient Irish had a saying: ‘You don’t give a man a weapon until you’ve taught him how to dance…”

Tanka #1

Each new day I will
Listen for morning birdsong
Move my stiff old legs

To hear my dreams from night past
To know my imperfections 

……….

Tanka #2

Prayer, a practice
Of my body where God stands
Perfect emptiness

Disarm myself, opening
To you, a balm for old wounds

……….

Tanka #3

Hospitality
Of poetry, a canvas
Blank, a dance of risk 

Tempering my soul with words
Painting peace in color and form

……….

Tanka #4

I don’t see beyond
The barrier of my soul
I stay within now

I clear my clutter of wrongs
I open to possibility

……….

Tanka #5

Grandfather’s clock ticks
Snow dances in its own song
This winter peace, peace

In peace of silent twirling
I hear you, Holy Presence.

……….

Tanka #6

Steam rising into form
She at her laundry duty
Her benediction

There is peace in winter’s breath.
In all we do, our soul sings.

……….

Tanka #7

He doesn’t know how
He has no room for wonder
He has never danced

Take me by my hand in peace
Feel what love offers all

……….

Tanka #8

I must make the room
Dancing requires much spaceThere is peace to know

I move the furniture back
Roll up the rug, clear the way

………

Tanka #9

I’ll listen later
To the closers of the day
Sun down and moon up

I walk opening my heart
Dancing in the peace of night

………..

Tanka #10

No, they didn’t, know
They didn’t know how easy
To see what was gone

Deep within a silent pool
To draw into life’s sound

……………

Tanka #11

They’re in my pocket
Small and insignificant
Unless you know them

I reach in and find their rough,
Their smooth, their being, their peace

……………..

Tanka #12

Always good to see
You, pal. Your light. Your space. You
draw me into soft.

That place of peace requiring
room, attention, ya, ya, ya.

…………..

Tanka #13

She said she would call
You, who knows all the answers
You, Wisdom Keeper

She hears you, gives into You
The sacred space of your peace

…………………

Tanka #14 

Swam some laps last night
Under moon showing a way
Silkflow over me

Moon guiding me in the peace
of you, Moon’s eternal grace

…………………

Tanka #15

Did she forgot how
to dance, or was it that she
was playing old games

Lines and strokes, pauses and loss,
Compassion calls for patience

…………………

Tanka #16

It’s not a fault when
Steps are no longer there to
Be remembered

With light hand offering
A lead, one can dance once more.

…………………

Tanka #17

Compassion requests
Ego to sit this one out,
To learn a new step

Open once more, yes, again
And welcome them into dance

…………………

Tanka #18

In broken heart I
See you now, clearly, absorbed
In old remembering

Break open, release your pride
Acquiesce all to the dance

…………………

Tanka #19

Maybe we forgot
how to dance without judgement,
without fear, without ego 

wanting us to be the best
we forget to make room 

…………………

Tanka #20

I asked my muse to
open my heart, free my soul,
a surrendering

A sacred place to waltz
In the whisper of her breath

…………………

Tanka #21

Snowflakes keep falling
Winters breath spins dancing sprites
Through her cold frost day

Play in her joy in the peace
Of February’s tango

…………………

Tanka #22

Dance as if you’re mad
Dance in rain, in snow, fall leaves
Dance until you can’t 

Then dance even more till dawn
Completely surrendered

…………………

Tanka #23

Come with me, tango
In step counting our heartbeats
As one with the moon

And we will breath in and out
Inviting all to the dance

…………………

Tanka #24

Teach me how to dance
One peaceful step at a time
Gentle  me to you

Let me gloam in your welcome
Let me measure you deeply

…………………

Tanka #25

Let me bring you to
the dance, fill your heart with
Song. no room for fear.

We will step as One in breath
One in joy, no room for hate.

…………………

Tanka #26

Let me bring you to
the dance, to empty your heart
Make room for deep peace

Night will turn to dawn and we
Will find each other in Grace

…………………

Tanka #27

Let me bring you to
The dance, let go of your hurt
I am with you

We are One in this place of
Joy, Make room, make room, make room

…………………

Tanka #28

Come with me in dance
And we will spin new ways of
Being making room

Hands held tight we twirl shaking
Off all that no longer serves.

…………………

Tanka #29

And if we dance till
Sun up and down we will have
Little time for fear

And peace will fill our days with
Joy, dance will be our province

…………………

Tanka #30

No time to fear in
Quickstep. No room for hate in
Tango. Let us dance.

Empty our hearts leave room for
Peace, just dance and dance and dance

…………………

Tanka #31

Don’t even pick up
The sword, don’t touch the cannon
A marvel awaits

See if you can find it, just
Take off your shoes and dance.

…………………

Tanka #32

Take off your shoes to
Feel her under your feet
Root down deep to her

And dance as One in her peace
Her arms are open, take hold

Arc

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She opened her right palm and rested it on the rock, opened to the sky. Her left hand placed two stones inside.

It was a new year, with lots of twos. Twenty twenty. She was two, her own being with one other. He was large and black with eyes that reflected what was inside her, two eyes that glistened, twin stars. Castor and Pollux. And he was her twin. They did everything as one.

They walked here, together, into the trees where the stream flowed small, almost unnoticed. But noticed by those who needed it. She needed it today. The quiet. She was glad to have this space in the middle of a place that housed people on top of people and cars that ran the streets all hours.

But this space was hers right now. His head in her lap.

She curled her fingers around the two stones. She wanted to feel their roughness. She wanted to know their story. Their way to this place, like hers must have been round-about. Or maybe they were always there waiting for her.

Wasn’t that how it was? Someone or something always there waiting. Waiting to be what they were supposed to be for the one they were supposed to be for. So while they waited, they just were. Doing just what they were supposed to do.

 

The arc of the new bridge
spanned the thoughts of the young one
who knew its power.
Not because of something she was told,
but something she knew deeply within.

She wanted to build bridges.
Elegant ones,
although she didn’t know that word yet
in her five-year-old existence.

But she knew bridges were strong
and could take you over rough water.
Or over another road going another direction.
Or lift you high enough to see the mountains
and the plains,
if you could look both directions at once.

She knew this.
All of this in her five-year-old existence.
It would take courage
to move Earth to make the mounds.
And big trucks and large shovels.
It was a job for big machines.

But it also took a pencil
and a piece of paper
to draw the lines.
And isn’t that all that matters.
Isn’t that where it all begins,
with a line.
One elegant line
to take you forward or
around
or above and to the side.
And you are in control.
And you can do it.
And if you make a mistake,
no matter.
You just continue,
a sort of start over.
Because no one really knows,
and it doesn’t matter anyway.
And you find that,
eventually,
you create the most elegant
and beautiful life
with twists and turns
and mistakes
and glorious vistas
all with one pencil,
a line,
by listening to what
you know deep within,
not told.
Make the space
To listen
To do
To be
Just who and what you are.

And she marveled
each time they drove over
that arc
that bridge
that took them into town.

She opened her hand and placed the two rocks on the ground. 

He sighed and grumbled that he had to move to make way for another of her inventions. But he did. And this time it would be different. She had made the room to listen. 

She took her finger and starting at the two rocks side by side, she drew an elegant arc.

Author’s Note:

Driving to a new writing group this morning I was taken aback by the beauty of a bridge I had crossed over many, many times. The arc it made and the grace it carried in just being took my breath.

Stepping into a new year with 20-20 vision, as one participant described it, gives one a new lens in which to look through.