Friday, November 3, 2023

HOPE in a world OUT OF ORDER

๐ŸŒนHowdy, Campers ~ and welcome to Poetry Friday! Today's poem and the link to PF is at the end of this post.

In this, our year-end round of posts, we will each share a favorite something we've read and would reccommend. It could be a book, a poem, a quotation, another blogger's post, anything that moved us, inspired us, thrilled us or taught us something.

So here's my truth: 

I am Jewish. 

I am terrified. 

In these frightening times, I want to give you...hope.

In yesterday's journal I wrote:

What I can’t figure out is how to hold the world in the palm of my hands. I used to be able to do that: listening to NPR each morning was a way of putting the world in order for the day. I don’t listen to it much these days. Can’t. It’s all bad stuff. I listen to My Unsung Hero and reposts of The Writers’ Almanac. I love the intro music of this podcast.

At first I was going to share Alison McGhee's October 21st poem of the week by Joseph Fasano. But that very human poem is too close to truth, too close to home, too dangerous, too deeply frightening. So I won't.

Through a dear friend, I came across  a letter in The Library of Congress by Helen Keller. 

image description (my words appear on torn paper):
As I read it, my heart remembered how to expand. It remembered that even in darkness there is great beauty. It remembered that humans can do miraculous things--like teach a blind and deaf child how to describe to another the sounds and sights of the 1898 World's Fair.

I hope reading her letter helps your heart remember, too.

(Below is a copy of the first page only of her typed letter; here's a link to all nine pages of the letter and a much easier-to-read transcript)

Dear Campers ~ I was planning to post yesterday's poem, titled OUT OF ORDER. When I read it this morning, though, it didn't seem hopeful enough to share with you. 

But the poem that found me today buoyed me. I hope it will lift you up, too.

Here's how today's poem walked in my door:

I took the following sentence from a newsletter and used it as a prompt:
“Ikaria is famously known as the place where people forget to die.”

Isn't that a wonderful quote?  Doesn't it make your fingers itch to DO something with it?

Here's how I started:

1) I typed the word FORGET as a temporary title.

2) I let my laptop keys out of their cages.

3) And off they galloped! 

Kitty, trying to catch the keys, galloping off...

Here's the rough draft:


Forget that you’re in the nose bleed section.
Forget about the hotdog,
and that guy in the row below chomping on it.
Forget that salty, hot-doggy smell
which you’ll never get out of your brain

Martinez hits a GRAND SLAM HOME RUN!
His bat smacks,
four runners score,
the ball soars,

to the kid in the red hat in a row far below
and a little to your right
who nearly catches it
drops it between the seats

and a nursing mother,
holding her infant securely against her chest with one hand,
kneels down and scoops it up,
deftly turns
and tosses it to the kid.

Forget the hotdog for god’s sake
it’s Martinez,
the kid,
the mother
that’s embedded in your memory.

Until today, that is,
forty-six years
to the day
when that salty, hot-doggy smell
wafts up

and a bat smacks,
four runners score,
the ball soars—then drops beneath your seat
and you, handing your beer to your buddy,
kneel down (oh, those creaky knees!)

scoop it up,
awkwardly standing and turning
to toss it to a random kid
in a red hat
whose face breaks out in an OHMYGOD! smile.

That, my friend--
you will 


poem (c) 2023 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

After several rough drafts, I re-titled it NEVER FORGET, because beneath everything these days is that terrible drumbeat. 

And yet...look what I found in hot dog and a ball game: hope. Imagine that.

I'd love to read what you create with this same prompt: “Ikaria is famously known as the place where people forget to die.”

Thanks for reading all the way to The End.

And thank you, Buffy, for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

posted by April Halprin Wayland, 
who misses 14-year-old Eli,
her licky, lanky, incredibly sweet dog 
(Kitty is mourning the empty space her big brother left, too)
Eli as a puppy, 2011

Eli swore he didn't do it...

Thank you, Cindy Derby, for this watercolor of Eli,
which captures his personality perfectly


Irene Latham said...

Of course you April would find hope in a hotdog. Thank you! Paul and I watched the documentary about long-lived communities in which they featured a man living in America, diagnosed with terminal cancer, who decided to return to Ikaria to die...and instead he started working on the grape vineyard and 30 years later he says that amazing thing about having coming to Ikaria where he guess he just forgot to die. I love that! I love YOU. xo

Tracey Kiff-Judson said...

April, so kind of you to make others smile when you are feeling sadness. I am so sorry for your loss of Eli. He seems like a wonderful chap. I feel confident that he too would appreciate the hot-doggy smell and the salty taste that is hard to shake from our memory. Thank you for the smile of recognition in your ballpark poem.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your dear Eli! Thank you for bringing a bit of hope in these scary times! xox

Sarah Grace Tuttle said...

Thank you for sharing your truth, and a spark of joy to be found amid all the loss and intensity of the moment, personally and worldwide. Wishing you healing, safety, and moments of joy to treasure in this time.

Patricia Franz said...

I am ever chasing Hope and Joy - and grateful enough to know that this is a luxury for so many others in the world. Keller's letter is a reminder that it's possible - and that, in and of itself, makes it worth seeking. I'm also grateful for your words, April. Thank you for sharing them today.

Buffy Silverman said...

Thank you for finding and sharing the hope in a hot dog! Unfortunately I share your terror and horror--and need the reminder that humans can do miraculous things.

Buffy Silverman said...

ps And I am so sorry about your pup.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Irene ~ We're watching the blue zones documentary now. Our three small beach cities grouped together...called the South Bay, are one of the original blue zone experiments by Dan. It's been, I think, 12 years, and he's transformed our cities tremendously. So I got that sentence from the Blue zone newsletter he sends out.
๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž I love you right back!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Tracey ~ interestingly enough, unlike other dogs, Eli was not at all moved by food. If you handed him a piece of steak, he might look at you and say," Thank you, but I'm full right now"... He'd much rather you rubbed his rump for a full 4 hours. ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐ŸŒž

April Halprin Wayland said...
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April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear JoAnn, I know you're a fighter and a doer. We know that we must lace up our marching shoes and also send love out into the world. So I'll send love to you right now ❣️

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Sarah, thank you for reading this and thank you for your wishes. Those wishes will help heal our world ๐Ÿ˜˜♥️

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you Patricia. Yes, hope and joy are luxuries. May they multiply.๐Ÿ˜˜๐ŸŒž

April Halprin Wayland said...

Buffy... I know you share those feelings. And I also know you're a changemaker. So, thank you for pushing back and helping to heal what's broken and what's breaking ๐Ÿ˜˜♥️

Linda B said...

Dear April, I am sorry to read of your goodbye to Eli. The beloved pets in our lives leave us all too soon. And yet, within that sadness, you've made us smile and be glad we can choose to be part of the goodness in the world, even if only reading some dear one's post with a poem about a hotdog and a deed worth a medal! Thank you!

Carmela Martino said...

Dear April, I'm so sorry to hear about Eli! Sending hugs for your loss and for all the other sorrow in the world these days. Thanks for sharing your hope-filled poem and giving me a smile on a windy, gray Chicago day.

Linda Mitchell said...

This is an amazing post. I'm sorry for the truth you must endure. I wish it wasn't so. Your poem and the quote and then the story from long ago all speak to the beauty of life and a heart many times expanded. Bravo!

Alan j Wright said...

April, this is a most evocative post. It is honest and revealing in its content. It reminds me that in stressful and confornting times we frequently find solace and essential hope in recalling memories that remind us exactly what is important. Life is messy ubt it is clear you are holding onto a sense of hope and order. Thank you for this pertinent reminder.

Carol Varsalona said...

I am sorry for your loss April. Hope is the thing we all need to hold on to for this world is a mixed up one now.

Mary Lee said...

Thank you for sharing your truth. My heart hurts most for those whose lives have been shattered, but also those far away who are still part of the collateral damage of the war simply because of their religion, heritage, or nationality and because of the closed-minded people who would use any or all of that against them. It is an act of faith and love that you were able to find hope as you wrote. Thank you. (And condolences to you and Kitty on the loss of your beloved Eli.)

Rose Cappelli said...

Keeping you in my heart. Thanks for the reminder that hope is alive. Your words are precious and I love the kindness of paying that baseball moment forward.

Bridget Magee said...

"Imagine that" indeed! Thanks for finding that hope and sharing it with us.

April Halprin Wayland said...

๐ŸŒžLinda... I wish I could hug you. Thank you for understanding ๐Ÿ™

April Halprin Wayland said...
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April Halprin Wayland said...

Carmela, aka Queen Mother of the Good Ship TeachingAuthors, I feel your hug all the way in California ๐ŸŒž

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you, Linda. It's confusing when there's so much goodness and beauty in the world juxtaposed against the stuff that hurts our hearts.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Alan, you're right, of is messy. I wish it were only messy in the finger-painting way. I know how to clean up that mess.

April Halprin Wayland said...

๐ŸŒฟCarol ~ yes, we need to hold on to hope...and we need to hug each other.

April Halprin Wayland said...

๐ŸŒฟ Mary Lee ~ My favorite quote these days is: "We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children." ~ President Jimmy Carter

April Halprin Wayland said...

๐ŸŒฟ Mary Lee ~ My favorite quote these days is: "We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children." ~ President Jimmy Carter

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Rose ~ Yes ~ it's the little kindnesses that get me through these days. And there are so many when I open my eyes to them

April Halprin Wayland said...

๐ŸŒฟBridget ~ I thought I had lost hope... I searched high and low for it...but it was just hiding under the bed ๐Ÿ˜…

Linda said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Eli. You gave him a wonderful life. The world seems so full of fear and sadness right now. Thank you for sharing a bit of hope and kindness.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Bridget...each of us is reaching for hope, aren't we? I love our poetry community.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you, Linda ~ Eli was definitely a 1st world dog...and well-loved. We've promised Kitty a new big brother in the new year.