Blue Sings

Summer has drifted over its boundaries giving us 90 degree weather!  But this week, Thursday I think, the temperatures will drop to something that has the feel of fall.  I have been waiting for October’s blue sky to enliven our spirits but have seen only the hazy, hot, and humid sky of summer, clinging to its gauzy veil, refusing to let go to October blue. “Blue Sings” points to the healing power of an October blue sky…if it ever arrives!

 

Blue Sings

Deep October sky,
spaces among yellow leaves,
heaving seas on a sunlit day,
the unblinking eyes of a Siamese cat,
a vein bulging over a wrist bone,
carrying impurity and pain to a heart,
blue sings.
Glittering sequins flash
an azure cure.

-Pamela Dilmore

Published in: Uncategorized on October 8, 2018 at 9:45 am  Leave a Comment  

ELIJAH

1 Kings 17 tells a story of life in the midst of subsistence. The story disturbs me because it echoes our own human fear, doubt, anger, loss, and pain.  Do we blame God as we cry out for life? How does our way of living measure up to the way we imagine our lives? What does it take to live? How much is enough? In the midst of human frailty, in ways we don’t imagine, God gives life.

 

ELIJAH

Yah is El.
Our God is the God Almighty.
The name pierces
drought and rain,
death and pain,
life scavenged by ravens
in a bone-dry valley
etched with a trickle of dark water.
Elijah.
The Word of God sticks in his mouth.

No abundance.
Just life.
It is enough to live.

Days unravel.
Water sinks into the sand.
Hoarse cries crack dessicated air.
Bone-thin fingers grasp
the scavenged meat and bread.
The Word of God hardens in Elijah’s throat.
Other gods sniff over the ancient high places.

Life again.
Elijah begs an edge, a veneer,
subsistence from a widow’s hand.
A little oil. A little meal. A couple of sticks.

No abundance.
Just life.
It is enough to live.

“What have you and your God done?
You have taken the breath from my son!
You have come to make me remember my sin!”
Elijah falls upon the boy three times
and begs for his breath.
A rattle of air.  A gasp.
Wind batters the shutters.
Clouds billow.
Oceans roll.
Stars explode into supernovas.
“See, your son is alive.”

No abundance.
Just life.
It is enough to live.

– Pamela Dilmore

 

Published in: Uncategorized on August 3, 2018 at 10:33 am  Leave a Comment  

ALARMS

I am not fond of alarms. This poem moves through an alarming morning.

 

ALARMS

Shrill, intermittent beeps
awaken me and I hit the snooze button.
The alarm persists. Six-thirty AM. I am
out of my bed, pursuing consciousness,
peeling off silken sleep,
scarves of sleep, wind-plastered to my body.

Wind bends the hackberry trees,
bare-limbed in Shelby Park.
Roiling clouds brood over the city,
the face of the deep, concrete and granite
below a marble white sky.

The weather radio blares a
storm alert.  I turn the dial
to NOAA and listen to a monotone voice
tell about approaching storms.

A burglar alarm wails in the shed
for the Vinny Links Golf Course.
Perhaps a gust of wind triggered it.
The wail signals no crisis.
Power failure often sets it off.
Police pay scarce attention.
Anyone who knows the neighborhood
ignores it.

I curl with my coffee in the womb of a chair.
Alarms ringing, I wait for creation.

-Pamela Dilmore

Published in: Uncategorized on June 26, 2018 at 9:11 am  Comments (1)  

Shift of Vision

This poem reflects on the experience of sitting in a church in the light that shines through stained glass windows and falls on the skin like tattoos in many colors.  Life can change as a result of multi-colored, biblical visions. The form of the poem is a villanelle, which gives the opportunity for emphasis on an important theme through repetition.

 

Shift of Vision

 

In the heartland, feeling truth on my skin like heavy air,
counting stained-glass windows in the old sanctuary,
unsettled in the pews, I know a shift of vision is rare.

Something to be resisted at all costs, a stifling affair
of light. Color bleeds through the glass. Blue angels stain me,
in the heartland, feeling truth on my skin like heavy air.

Outside, pigeons shadow the glass darkly everywhere
they fly. Doves diving over green water shatter security,
unsettled in the pews, I know a shift of vision is rare.

It begins at the water, and terrified, I linger there
in a sharp blessing of light and a sudden understanding of identity
in the heartland, feeling truth on my skin like heavy air

tattooed in colors, apostles, a cup, Mary, a cross. Jacob’s stair
wounds my hip, and I limp into caricatured anomaly,
unsettled in the pews, I know a shift of vision is rare.

I wear them all on my skin and in my hair.
Each day the vision is meant to be colored with odyssey.
In the heartland, feeling truth on my skin like heavy air,
unsettled in the pews, I know a shift of vision is rare.

-Pamela Dilmore

 

 

Published in: Uncategorized on May 25, 2018 at 9:50 am  Comments (2)  

Adam Under the Overpass

When I first moved to Nashville, my commute to work included a short section of the interstate that loops around the city.  Three interstates connect to this loop, and it is always congested.  One section, an on ramp, took me beneath an overpass. The ramp descends as though it leads into a cave, then ascends to join Interstate 40. On one morning as the traffic was near a standstill, I noticed that someone had made the area beside the highway a campsite. A rumpled sleeping bag was piled on a rock ledge beneath the overpass. I could see black plastic bags and other items littering the shreds of ground between the highways. The area surrounding this congested on ramp was someone’s home. This discovery was the starting point for my poem “Adam Under the Overpass.”

 

Adam Under the Overpass

 

Adam, a dirt-crusted man,
lives in gray rocks sheltered
by an interstate overpass.
Traffic grumbles, hisses, whines, and screeches,
a serpentine, fire-breathing dragon,
spewing fumes, protecting him from predators.
Plastic bags hang in sumac thickets
thriving in the wedge of ground between the highways.
Adam puts on a long-sleeved shirt
and baggy jeans, walks along the highways,
and picks up discarded aluminum cans.
The flesh of his face shines through grime.
God, trying again, brushes away
the dust, blows life into this earth.

Pamela Dilmore

Published in: Uncategorized on May 9, 2018 at 9:19 am  Leave a Comment  

COMFORT

I enjoy etymologies because they add constellations of meaning that are not immediately evident or that may seem very different from the way we currently understand a word.  The Latin word roots of comfort are com- (together) and fortis (strong).  The word has a deeper and more potent meaning than simply bundling up in a quilt and drinking hot chocolate beside a warm fire. To comfort someone is to be strong with them. By extension, being comfortable suggests being strong.  Comfort is a strong word.

COMFORT

Quilts, a gas-log fire, and cats purring,

quiet morning comfort sustains the day.

Familiarity, routine, and stillness define a way

to move and think through the world’s whirring.

No beaded words to string on this necklace

of imagination. No meaning other than a whisper

of gas flames and the solitary chirp

of a bird outside the window, fearless

as it sings near the gazing cat.

What stops my song beside whispering flames,

raises catlike attention to names?

What claw-sharp questions arch my back?

Sing and purr. The song has no end.

Be strong together. Comfort, O comfort my friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: Uncategorized on April 18, 2018 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment  

Penelope

My grandmother spent time between daily tasks sitting in her rocker on the front porch working on a crochet project.  The fun in writing this piece was to grab a moment from the movement of life, in this case, a woman like my my grandmother waiting for her husband and son to come home to supper.  I like such moments more than longer narratives because they evoke their own stories.  This one  evokes the story of Odysseus and a focus on Penelope as she waits for him to return to Ithaca. So, with a nod to Homer and to my grandmother…

Penelope

A woman rocks in a white chair on the front porch.
A sea-foam of crochet work spills from her lap.
Late afternoon sunlight glints from the metal crochet  hook.
A cat, eyes half shut, sits on the porch railing.
A bird dog sleeps on the front steps.
The sweet smell of gardenia huddles inside closed buds.
The woman pauses, sighs, looks toward the dirt road.
Dust rises in the pine trees.
Time to get supper on the table for her husband and son.
At least it’s not Sunday,
the day she must cook a big dinner
just in case anybody comes by after church.
The pickup truck turns into the driveway.
The woman stands and her crochet  hook clatters on the porch.
The cat springs from the railing.
The old bird dog stands up, whimpers,
stretches, and lifts his ears.
The woman bends over to pick up the crochet hook,
unraveling her bedspread.

Penelope unravels her weaving on purpose.
Her work maintains the odious revelry
of suitors who do not love her.
Watching for dust on the distant hills,
she no longer sees their faces.
Irritable Odysseus returns to Ithaca.
An old dog recognizes the beggar and lifts his ears.
Telemachus, also a beggar, returns.
Then, arrows, so many arrows.
Death ends the revelry.

The woman on the porch sees a half-opened gardenia.
She picks it, lifts it to her nose,
then looks at her husband and son walking toward the house.

Published in: Uncategorized on April 13, 2018 at 9:28 am  Comments (1)  

Benediction

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the 
Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

                                             -Numbers 6:24-26 (NRSV)

The LORD told Moses to have Aaron and his sons bless the Israelites with these words recorded in Numbers 6.  Over the millennia these verses have frequently been used in a variety of religious settings as a closing prayer or benediction. I remember these verses as the prayer we used to close our UMYF (United Methodist Youth Fellowship) meetings.

Dictionaries tell us that the word benediction means a closing prayer or act of worship that imparts blessing, goodness, or well-being. I enjoy etymology, looking at the histories of word roots and what they mean.  Knowing word roots adds constellations of meaning and enriches my reading experience.  The roots of benediction are bene and dict,  Bene means well or good, and dict refers to words and speaking.  These roots suggest well-wishing or a good word.

A closing prayer or benediction inspires us as we move from worship settings into the world to live as a faithful people.  In addition to this closing inspiration, I would like to think that all language could be saturated with benediction, with well-wishing.  I would like to believe that all words could be good words, that benedictions might undergird all our encounters and perceptions of other people.

May the LORD bless you and keep you…..

Published in: Uncategorized on April 5, 2018 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Chiming In

I have finally decided chime into this jangling world with my own voice and start posting my poems.  Here is one from a couple of years ago.

CHIMES

Chimes. Naming them evokes the sounds.

Ring and jingle sing of rising wind,

pitch and chord the coming weather front.

The new year blows in cold.

Chimes hang on the front porch,

twirl and vibrate, signal the wind’s movement.

Windows rattle evidence of invisible wind

and the power of change.

Nothing quiet or still on this sunlit day.

Inside, today protected from this wind,

yellow flames flicker in the gas fireplace,

whisper warm promises of peace and hope,

flash shadows and light on the brick wall.

Outside, wind compels the chimes.

Published in: Uncategorized on April 2, 2018 at 9:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Perspective

I enjoy the unique perspectives in several of Elizabeth Bishop’s poems, and by perspectives, I mean literally how she sees what  she sees.  In the poem “Sleeping on the Ceiling” the view is upside-down. She takes us from  a peaceful ceiling to Place de la Concorde, a crystal chandelier, a fountain,  peeling wallpaper, a botanical garden, photographs of animals, flowers, and foilage.  She tells us to go “under the wallpaper” to battle an insect-gladiator with a net and trident. The perspective or point of view is a ceiling where she longs to sleep. The poem makes no sense, but then, it does. Why? Perhaps because it rolls from image to image, each one capable of opening other views, like fast-moving video collages. A sense of history and movement live inside this little upside-down world.

 

Published in: Uncategorized on March 30, 2018 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment