Ultimately voiced in the garden of self-expression.
Bringing meaning to a blank page.
The past month has been a whirlwind of activity for me, as I’ve involved myself in the promotion of my first book. Today I felt like taking time out and getting back to my roots. Returning to poetry helps me get in touch with the joy of creativity. It’s a wonderful feeling to just write.
I hope spring affords you the time to refresh your spirit.
Somehow I convinced myself I needed a new chair. Did it matter we already have fifteen chairs in the house? Not at all. None of them seemed to suit me anymore. I wanted an easy chair which would give me more back support. I also wanted to be able to elevate my feet. I’m short, and the two big recliners in our family room do not fit me well.
I discussed my dilemma with my husband, Herb. He understood and agreed, but with one condition. Herb wanted me to be “sure” I found the chair comfortable before the purchase was made. After all, I was “sure” about the recliners we purchased two years ago.
That’s hard to determine. How can I know about a chair unless I sit in it for awhile? I wondered how the furniture sales people would react if I brought a book and sat in their showroom for an afternoon.
“I’m just going to look around,” I said as I grabbed my purse and drove off to the nearest Memorial Day home sale. Believe it or not the store had what I wanted. A comfy easy chair and ottoman which coordinated with the style of our sofa. I called Herb and asked him to meet me in the showroom with a pillow from our sofa so we could match the colors. The salesman informed us we would need to special order the set since we wanted a color change. The order would take about four weeks to fill. With additional charges for a fabric protector and delivery, Herb and I knew we were looking at a major purchase. And did I mention the chair was not on sale?
When I looked at Herb’s face something told me to wait. I remembered the mistake we almost made about the purchase of our camper. I politely told the salesman I needed more time to think.
The next day our son came to visit. I told him I thought I needed a chair. He looked around the room and said, “I think you have too much furniture in here now. Why don’t you get rid of the coffee table?” The funny thing is I agreed with him. After we carried the table out to the garage, I rearranged the remaining furniture. Now I could place the ottoman from our existing recliner near the sofa. Did I mention I’ve always been comfortable sitting on the sofa? Shazaam! Now I can sit on the sofa and elevate my feet! My furniture dilemma was solved.
I can’t help but get philosophical about this. How many other times have I thought I needed something and ran out to buy it without really thinking? I am not a minimalist, by any means, but I want to be more deliberate about the purchases I make. I recently watched a documentary about minimalism. Minimalists rid themselves of excess possessions in order to focus on what’s important. I didn’t need another chair. I needed a different way of arranging my furniture.
Rearranging the furniture also opened possibilities for other changes in the room. I found an accent table, a candle holder, and a picture in an upstairs bedroom. Voila! I created a new look out of things I already owned.
“Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.” Carl Sandburg Atlantic Monthly, March 1923
In case you forgot, April is National Poetry Month. During the month of April flowers bloom and butterflies flutter. What a great time of year to recognize the significant contribution of poetry to our world. Maybe you haven’t given this art form much thought. Maybe you enjoyed reading poetry in school, but currently read novels instead. Maybe you don’t feel like you understand what some poets are trying to say. If you agree with any or all of these statements, please consider the following benefits of reading poetry.
Poetry helps readers grow intellectually. It teaches us to simplify complex ideas through the use of symbolism and imagery. As we read we draw a mental picture of what the poet sees.
When we engage with the emotions of the poet, we develop empathy. If we identify with the experiences of other people, we better understand ourselves.
Poetry infuses life with beauty and meaning, which increases our creativity.
Take a few moments to access these links. In her poem, Hope is a thing with feathers, Emily Dickinson compares hope to a bird that never makes demands. Shel Silverstein grapples with the secret world of dialogue known to caterpillars in his poem, Forgotten Language. William Wordsworth elevates his mood by contemplating daffodils in his work, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.All of these poems connect with the reader’s emotions through the appreciation of nature. These poets make new discoveries as they ponder the small things which are often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of life.
Writing poetry is a vehicle for artistic self-expression. Who I am, what I think, and my experiences are communicated by showing instead of telling. The poet paints with words, like an artist paints on canvas.
In his book, How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, author Edward Hirsch refers to poetry as a message in a bottle. After the message is cast into the ocean, it drifts onto the beach waiting to be opened. The finder is the one the message was trying to reach. Once the finder opens it, words spill out from a distant place and time, yet still rich with meaning.
The following poems are my messages in a bottle. Cast out upon the waves, may these words reach the finders they are seeking.
For My Brother
As night fell in the desert
We stretched out on our cots,
Saw distant constellations
Whose titles we forgot
Viewed streaks of falling stars
Pulled down by gravity
Like fleeting dreams of childhood
Which never came to be.
The howl of a coyote
Made such an eerie sound.
It cautioned all outsiders,
“I will defend my ground.”
We whispered to each other
And felt a tinge of fright
Like children telling stories
When Dad turned out the light.
(Debra Burton 2015)
A Hapless Hero
Flutter of butterflies hover on the scene.
Arizona thistles bow before each queen.
Flutter of butterflies crowned in orange and white,
Seated on their purple thrones surrounded by the light.
Flutter of butterflies lift your scepters up.
Raise the royal chalice, drink deeply from the cup.