June 9th, 2009


Poetry Fishbowl Open!

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open! I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.

In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is the magic of everyday things. I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.

EDIT: The Poetry Fishbowl is now closed.

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Fly Free

Poem: In the Garden of Ouroboros

This is the free poem for the June 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was prompted by puffbird and also somewhat inspired by the symbolism of the snake swallowing its tail.

In the Garden of Ouroboros

The plants inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen.
The animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

The leaves fall and become compost.
The compost collapses into itself and feeds new leaves.

The rain falls to form puddles.
The puddles evaporate to form rain.

Leaves are eaten by worms that are eaten by centipedes
That are eaten by voles that are eaten by owls
That die and become food for the worms again.

These are the cycles in which the world was made,
Circles and spirals eternally flowing, head swallowing tail
In an endless process of life, death, and transformation.
Everything is curved and recursive; nothing is linear.

In the garden of Ouroboros, nothing is wasted.

Poem: "Washing at the Window"

This poem was inspired and sponsored by talix18.

Washing at the Window

My hands slide through soap and water,
the slick heat scrubbing the dishes clean.
My fingers move without thought,
steady and deliberate; they know their work.
My mind is light and empty as a soap bubble,
the day’s worries washed away like crumbs.

Outside, the birds are flocking to the feeder.
With such tiny, mindless movements
they pick up a seed and peel away the husk,
keeping only the sweet nutmeat inside.
They do this over and over, tirelessly,
until they are full and ready to fly away.

Meditation is the art of being in the moment,
however imperfect, however prosaic.
It is movement without mind,
scrubbing awareness clean,
stripping away the chaff of distraction.

Lives are made up of moments
as days are made up of minutes,
a silk ribbon rolling through a keyhole,
ready to be picked up by a needle
and knotted into tiny embroidered blossoms.

It is not about doing nothing, thinking nothing;
it is about doing what we do yet thinking purely.
It is about twisting time’s ribbon into knots of noticing
as easily as birds twist grass into nests,
as beautifully as soap refracts sunlight into swirls of color.

Chop wood, carry water –
this is old advice.
Wash dishes, watch birds –
this is enlightenment made individual.
Stitch these instants into your memory
and they will sustain you in stillness.

Poem: "False Wishes Come True"

This poem was inspired and sponsored by minor_architect.

False Wishes Come True

At night, I saw a falling star,
and I wished for fame.
Now everyone knows me as
“That idiot who knocked over the cappucino machine.”
Damn space junk.

At the mall, I threw a coin into a wishing well,
and I wished for money.
Then I got named committee treasurer.
Damn bus tokens.

At the rodeo, I saw a redheaded woman on a white horse,
and I wished for adventure.
The next day, a hurricane hit my house
and I had to flee across six states.
Damn hair dye.

What is the world coming to
when false wishes come true?

Poem: "Cats Who Fear No Evil"

This poem was inspired by a prompt from ysabel and sponsored by minor_architect.

Cats Who Fear No Evil

For millennia there have been
cats who fear no evil,
who hunted down demons
and plague rats and Nazi spies.

They only seem to be
staring at nothing,
hissing at shadows,
pouncing on bare floors.

In reality, they are
staring at visions,
hissing at wickedness,
pouncing on probabilities.

Today the cats who fear no evil
watch the stock market
as the bears and bulls stampede
and the brokers make a killing.

So when the fearless felines
stare, they see stock markets;
when they hiss, someone is cheating; and
when they pounce, Justice unsheathes ivory claws.

The Wheel of Karma
runs over all dogs in the end,
and puts their small souls into small bodies
that scurry from the hunters’ fangs.