Monday, April 24, 2017

#Poetry Break: Why I Don’t Mention Flowers When Conversations with My Brother Reach Uncomfortable Silences

(M.A. Reilly, 2012)

Why I Don’t Mention Flowers When Conversations with My Brother Reach Uncomfortable Silences

Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing
flowers home.
Wisława Szymborska
In the Kashmir mountains,
my brother shot many men,
blew skulls from brown skins,
dyed white desert sand crimson.
What is there to say to a man
who has traversed such a world,
whose hands and eyes have
betrayed him?
Were there flowers there? I asked.
This is what he told me:
In a village, many men
wrapped a woman in a sheet.
She didn’t struggle.
Her bare feet dragged in the dirt.
They laid her in the road
and stoned her.
The first man was her father.
He threw two stones in a row.
Her brother had filled his pockets
with stones on the way there.
The crowd was a hive
of disturbed bees. The volley
of stones against her body
drowned out her moans.
Blood burst through the sheet
like a patch of violets,
a hundred roses in bloom.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

20 Faces in 20 Days

An image I painted.
I am participating in the #100DayProject Creativity. Each day for no more than 20 minutes I will compose a face. To do this I might sketch, paint, collage, photograph, and/or digitally compose. In 2014, I spent 100 days making a collage a day based on the news--most often from the New York Times. (You can see that project here and here) .  Below is a slideshow that feature images I made during the first 20 days.


#Poetry Break: blessing the boats

Silence (M.A. Reilly, Maine, 2015)

blessing the boats

(at St. Mary’s)
may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back    may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Green Earth Book Awards

from here: "Green Earth Book Award is the nation’s first environmental stewardship book award for children and young adult books. Over 128 winning and honor books have been honored since 2005. The award continues to garner attention from the literary world as an esteemed award, bringing recognition to authors, but more importantly, providing the award-winning books to children.
Each year, an expert jury selects books that best convey the message of environmental stewardship in these categories:
    • Picture Book:  books for young readers in which the visual and verbal narratives tell the story
    • Children’s Fiction: novels for young readers up to age 12
    • Young Adult Fiction: books for readers from age 13 to 21
    • Children’s Nonfiction: nonfiction books for readers from infancy to age 12
    • Young Adult Nonfiction: nonfiction books for readers from 12 to age 21"

2017 Short List

Image result for ada's violin
from Ada's Violin

2017 Long List

  • Ace, King of My Heart, by Lea Herrick and illustrated by Nora Howell, Krystal Colon, and David Herrick (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
  • Maybe a Fox, by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee (Atheneum Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)
  • Pax, by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Jon Klassen  (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Saving Wonder, by Mary Knight (Scholastic Press)
  • The Wolf Keepers, by Elise Broach and illustrated by Alice Ratterree (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
  • Broken Wing, by David Budbill (Green Writers Press)
  • Dig Too Deep, by Amy Allgeyer (Albert Whitman & Co)
  • KABOOM!, by Brian Adams (Green Writers Press)
  • Keep Her, by Leora Krygier (She Writes Press)
  • Rescued, by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic Press)
  • Up from the Sea, by Leza Lowitz (Crown BFYR, Random House Children’s Books)

#Poetry Break: Mother Earth: Her Whales

from my art journal (2017)

Mother Earth: Her Whales

    - by Gary Snyder

An owl winks in the shadows
A lizard lifts on tiptoe, breathing hard
Young male sparrow stretches up his neck,
                   big head, watching—
The grasses are working in the sun. Turn it green.
Turn it sweet. That we may eat.
Grow our meat.
Brazil says “sovereign use of Natural Resources”
Thirty thousand kinds of unknown plants.
The living actual people of the jungle
        sold and tortured—
And a robot in a suit who peddles a delusion called “Brazil”
        can speak for them?
        The whales turn and glisten, plunge
                and sound and rise again,
        Hanging over subtly darkening deeps
        Flowing like breathing planets
              in the sparkling whorls of
                     living light—
And Japan quibbles for words on
        what kinds of whales they can kill?
A once-great Buddhist nation
        dribbles methyl mercury
        like gonorrhea
                      in the sea.
Pere David’s Deer, the Elaphure,
Lived in the tule marshes of the Yellow River
Two thousand years ago—and lost its home to rice—
The forests of Lo-yang were logged and all the silt &
Sand flowed down, and gone, by 1200 AD—
Wild Geese hatched out in Siberia
        head south over basins of the Yang, the Huang,
        what we call “China”
On flyways they have used a million years.
Ah China, where are the tigers, the wild boars,
                   the monkeys,
                      like the snows of yesteryear
Gone in a mist, a flash, and the dry hard ground
Is parking space for fifty thousand trucks.
IS man most precious of all things?
—then let us love him, and his brothers, all those
Fading living beings—
North America, Turtle Island, taken by invaders
        who wage war around the world.
May ants, may abalone, otters, wolves and elk
Rise! and pull away their giving
        from the robot nations.
Solidarity. The People.
Standing Tree People!
Flying Bird People!
Swimming Sea People!
Four-legged, two-legged people!
How can the head-heavy power-hungry politic scientist
Government     two-world     Capitalist-Imperialist
Third-world     Communist      paper-shuffling male
             non-farmer     jet-set     bureaucrats
Speak for the green of the leaf? Speak for the soil?
(Ah Margaret Mead . . . do you sometimes dream of Samoa?)
The robots argue how to parcel out our Mother Earth
To last a little longer
                    like vultures flapping
Belching, gurgling,
                    near a dying doe.
“In yonder field a slain knight lies—
We’ll fly to him and eat his eyes
                    with a down
         derry derry derry down down.”
             An Owl winks in the shadow
             A lizard lifts on tiptoe
                         breathing hard
             The whales turn and glisten
                         plunge and
             Sound, and rise again
             Flowing like breathing planets
             In the sparkling whorls
             Of living light.
                      Stockholm: Summer Solstice 40072

From Turtle Island. Copyright © 1974 by Gary Snyder. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Friday, April 21, 2017

#SOL17: The Soul of the Whole

The Familiar Falling Away (M.A. Reilly, 2011)

In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters down, if you drop with them farther over the world's rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power of evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. This is given. It is not learned. 
—Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk 


For the last few days, I have felt pummeled each time I become aware--almost as if it is new knowledge--that Rob is dead.  It comes upon me frequently for there are a million reminders of Rob and these also are reminders that he is no longer alive.  I will be painting and a particular color triggers a memory of Rob's last moments before death. Or I pick up a magazine and on the cover is a quote by Haruki Murakami, Rob's last favorite author. Or I am out walking and I see a cardinal and it reminds me of the weeks after Rob's death when I would see a lone cardinal winging in and out of our yard. The memories are brief punctures that come on and end with a quickness that in itself is unsettling.

There are more ways of knowing grief than a widow could count.


Acceptance seems like a simple concept. Something is acknowledged and it is then accepted.  Yet how we think a thing into existence requires its own acceptance and is dependent upon the specific language used.

Language changes everything.


Rob is dead is different than Rob has died. And these are different from Rob is no longer alive or Devon's dad has died. And all of these statements are different from Another spring has come and Rob is still gone. 

The more ways we name, the more ways we need to accept.


These language moments reveal the disorder that is usually so well hidden.  And yet, within all that disorder, one constant remains--one unified field: our capacity and need and willingness to care for one another leads us to create and recreate ourselves.

And all of this: the languaging, caring, the unified field--are other names for soul.


There is something holy in this journey. Something much larger than myself. Something that connects me to you and to those who have come before us and will come after us. Emerson called it an Over-Soul. He wrote that within us "is the soul of the whole; the wise silence" (from here). Patti Smith in a recent interview names this unified field as well.  In speaking about death, she says,

All these people that we lose, and this is what I mean by experience, they're all within us. They become part of our DNA. They become part of our blood...and I feel them within me. If we keep ourselves open, they will come. The Italian filmmaker Pasolini said, 'It isn't that the dead don't speak, it's just that we forget how to listen.'