poetry

Write Yourself a Love Letter for Valentine’s Day

 

paper cutout
Amor Eterno by Tasha Marks and Emily Evans, Zocalo Poets

 

I woke up thinking of Valentine’s Day when my kids were young. You know, the endless search a week before (sometimes the night of) for V cards, small and cute for the kids to take to their classroom.

But this morning, I thought of love letters. Specifically, what if we wrote a love letter to ourselves each Valentine’s Day?

What would mine say? How would I start?

Dear Monica,

I love you?

That’s not it. So my mind turned over what I’d write about and soon I came up with words that lent themselves to a poem:

 

Write yourself a love letter

Write to your heart’s delight, to its dismay

Write to the here and the past

Write to the heat and the cold

the bitter and sweet

 

Write to light and through the dark

Write to the grief and joy

Write to love and to hate

Write to the nothingness or

the jagged points

 

Write to the known and unknown, the shadows and light

Write to the truth and through the lies

Write to remember and forget

Write to the clearing beyond

 abandon self-doubt

 

Write to please yourself and inflame others

Write unwaveringly, straight to the point

Write to sing and to kill pain,

Write for release

feel the words surface, plunge deep

 

Write beyond sight, over the mountain, through the deserts and valleys

Write under the stars, on top of the moon, the sun seeking your face

Write with eyes closed, mind open

Write like you matter,

for you do.

 

Think about it.

red rose

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

Oscar Wilde

 

Happy Valentine’s Day ❤

poetry

Ten Latinx Poets on #NationalPoetryDay

I want to do what spring does to cherry trees-Pablo Neruda

Yesterday was the first day of Spring and the first day I caught a breath. A weeklong cough and a road trip of 1100 miles will do that to you.

Today is National Poetry Day. BookRiot published a list of “25 Gateway Poets to Start Reading for World Poetry Day.”

This had me thinking about the first time I became interested in reading poetry. It wasn’t any of the poets in my English Lit classes in high school.

In college, I bought, and read, my first book of poetry:

1-Floricanto by Alurista. His words caught me up in poetry, the poems reflected my childhood, my experiences. My favorite: “We Walk On Pebbled Streets.”  I still have the old book, weathered and marked up in the margins with images that resonated, made me think, ask questions.

 

Poetry book by Alurista
Floricanto by Alurista

The following are Latinx poets I’ve read.

2- Sandra Cisneros: My Wicked, Wicked Ways and Loose Woman. Every woman finds themselves in her poetry. My favorite, a three-page poem:

You bring out the Mexican in me

The hunkered thick dark spiral

The core of a heart howl

The bitter bile.

The tequila lágrimas on Saturday all

through next weekend Sunday.

3. Margarita Engle writes novels in verse, many of the novels are for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers. The Lightning Dreamer : Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist and Poet Slave of Cuba are favorites.

4. Frank Acosta publishes poetry on Facebook. Here’s a post about his poetry.

5. Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Latino Poet Laureate and awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for his collection of poems “Half of the World in Light.”

6-Gloria Anzaldúa, a NEA award winner and co-author with writer/playwright Cherríe Moraga of Borderlands.

To live in the Borderlands means to

put chile in the borscht,

eat whole wheat tortillas,

speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent;

be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints;

Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to

resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle,

the pull of the gun barrel,

the rope crushing the hollow of your throat

7. Jimmy Santiago Baca‘s poetry is gut-wrenching and intense. He’s written several books of poetry besides a screenplay, Bound by Honor.

8. Verónica Reyes, Chopper Chopper centers on poems from “Bordered Lives.”

Poems by Veronica Reyes

9. Melinda Palacio. I first read “Folsom Lockdown” her chapbook, and went on to  “How Fire is a Story Waiting.” My favorite is “Things to Carry,” her poem about visiting her father in prison.

10. Ada Límon. “Sharks in the River.” She made a blog entry that described a feeling I also had:

I feel like everything these days is just notes. No completed thing, just notes. But I am taking them and walking with them and move them around in my body and flying them like kites and listening to them rustle and maybe someday I will make something.

Now go read some poetry, an old favorite and someone new.

Anne Lamott self care quote
Healing, Health, poetry, Self Care, tough times, Wisdom

What to Do When You Don’t Feel Safe

Anne Lamott self care quote
Unplugging-Anne Lamott

This has been a frightening week, interspersed with personal trying periods, and a need to bury my head for a couple of hours at a time.

My daughter texted me after the tragedy in Nice, France.

iPhone text
Text One
iphone text
Text Two

 

I hated that she felt unsafe. I hated that I couldn’t stretch my arms across 1,000 miles and give her a hug, kiss her forehead. All I could offer her was to look for hope and to take a deep breath.

But I had to remember that feeling unsafe doesn’t mean that we are.

This was my reaction to feeling powerless, angry, and fearful.

I wanted to share the power of prayer with her, but she isn’t Christian or of any faith anymore. That in itself added to my sadness. But, also gave me the opportunity, later, to have a conversation with her about why I pray and how that helps me.

That night the news across all channels broadcast the tragedy. Soon there was another world event, the attempted coup in Turkey, and another, the sniper attack on police officers in Baton Rouge.

I had to keep the television off and stay off social media. My mind, spirit, and body were out of whack.

My attempts at ‘righting’ myself was to practice some self-care. I tried to find ways to relax and experience safety.

The garden beckoned. The Monarch caterpillars had decimated the milkweed leaving it a skeletal reminder of a once gorgeous fiery orange headed plant. Meanwhile, new butterflies showed off acrobatic skills over the remaining fronds of the second milkweed bush.

Butterfly acrobatics
Butterfly acrobatics

While watering the potted succulents I found that two blossomed with beautiful flowers. Being in the garden helped and somehow pushed me to go to the gym and exercise.

Flowering Christmas Cactus in July-Southern Calif.
Flowering Christmas Cactus in July-Southern Calif.

That evening I decided not to go out and sat in my backyard coloring. My sister gifted me with the adult coloring books a few months back. This may sound cheesy, but I felt a lot of pleasure wielding the colored pencils, so much that I had to go buy me a box of Crayola crayons, the giant 64 set box.

The next day, I read a mesmerizing book of poetry written by a man who had been a slave and put into the ‘service’ of a wealthy slave owner as a child of six years of age. Although his verses expose the cruelty of slavery, his poetry reflects the beauty he finds with his parents and his own world.

Book of poetry, cuban poet Juan Francisco Manzano
The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle. Poetry of Juan Francisco Manzano.

Meditation via my cell phone is a life saver. I either go to Pandora and listen to Deepak Chopra or I go to the Oprah channel and listen to one of Chopra’s 21 days of meditations. (Many times they are free).

On Sunday, I attended church service where I’m a greeter a couple of times a month. As I passed out bulletins to numerous families, teenagers and the elderly, the smiles people gave after a “good morning, I hope you enjoy the service” enlivened me.

I wondered why I felt a new energy, and it dawned on me that although the people were heavily burdened, they were trying to live and do the best they could.

Over the weekend, I kept in close contact with my daughter and shared the photos above with her. I don’t know if this helped her but it sure helped me.

Do the best you can. Create your own safe space. Hugs. 

 

 

 

yellow rose bud
Encouragement, Gratitude, Inspiration

A New Garden of Hope Restores

Low water garden-photo by AlvardoFrazier
Low water garden-photo by AlvardoFrazier

One day the mulch covered the ground, dense and moist, an earthy covering for a new garden. Today, weeds sprouted everywhere. This seemed like an allegory of recent life.

Dirt under fingernails, the smell of damp earth, I pulled on shallow roots, plucked them with ease, until one pricked my fingers. Ouch. Microscopic spines lost themselves under my flesh. Time to quit, take a breather and wander the garden.

Two months later, the sculptural beauty of succulents seemed more pronounced. Orange milkweed leaned toward the lichen-spotted rock, both sharing colors.

milkweed, lichen covered rock in garden
Milkweed and Lichen-Covered Rock-AlvaradoFrazier

Feathery fronds on the Mimosa branches danced. Two lizards skittered across the pebbly patio floor, diving into a crimson mound of bougainvillea.

Tiny buds unfolded on the thin branches of the peach and tangerine trees. Green leaf flags from the birches waved a good morning.

Around the corner of the stucco wall, a baby rose bloomed sunshine among glossy leaves. A spiral of fragrance rose. Breath of beginnings.

yellow rose bud
First Rose-alvardofrazier.com

Maybe it sounds simplistic to think the beauty of a garden can rectify the unruliness of the political scene or the horrors of terrorism in the world. It doesn’t.

But as I walk in my garden today, I take in the beauty and restore myself. I think of how I can be of service to someone, promise myself to practice more random acts of kindness.

More weeds will poke through the mulch and I’ll pluck them out. The trees will leaf up, the lizards will grow bigger, more roses will bloom.

I wait in my garden of hope.