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How I Greet the Day: Poems and Acorns

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First line from Leatha Kendrick’s Zen Laundry

Mornings, pulled earthward, I approach
my oak with expectation, not for any one particular
thing, but the unrelenting (relentless, that would be?) unwavering
in the way of tall, statuesque, mountain-like pause on earth
that my towering companion offers me-barefoot,
still warm from my quilt and just as rumpled.
I stretch my arms skyward, mimic her crown touching new light,
sampling air with fingertips that spangle green and sunshine,
dodging acorns falling capless at my feet.

Mornings pulled earthward, I reach,
seeking unabashed growth caused by the digestion of light.

Suzi Banks Baum
October 16, 2015


Acorns already

Mornings pull me earthward. I slept last night having read from Melissa Pritchard’s A Solemn Pleasure, about a young woman in the military. This young woman’s heroic presence came in to my dreams. Does this happen to you? When what you are reading dances with you all night long? For this reason, I steer clear of news and my phone and email after a certain point-some nights closer to my head on the pillow than others, but I aim to offline at least an hour before I get in to bed. I just sleep better.

I found a new poet last night during my Powder Keg Sessions writing workshop at the Ramsdell Public library. I pulled a random book from the poetry shelves and found Leatha Kendrick’s poem, Zen Laundry. You can imagine my delight. I used Leatha’s first line to jump start this poem.

This morning, oh, this morning. The light in the Berkshires is pure golden.
I take it in as best I can, repeating my morning poems and vows. I speak a poem in the morning, like my kids used to repeat a morning verse in their classrooms at the Waldorf School they attended. As a kid, I repeated the Lord’s Prayer at the Lutheran school I attended, that and the Pledge of Allegiance.

What words do you rise with?

What is this post about? Morning and how I greet the day. And poems. And fall. And the plentitude of acorns out in my yard. Really now.

Showing up outside to greet the oak in my yard is just part of my morning ritual. I take out the compost so as not to appear dawdling, what with it being dawn and there are things to do, people to see, and lunches to assemble. Standing under my oak just sets something very quiet in me right.

How about you? What starts your day?


Super Moon sunset

Oh I must tell you that the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival was a blast last weekend. The collaborative short movie we made, called The Permission Slip was honored with a Curator’s Choice award. You can see the reels of this year’s winners here. Many thanks to the creators of Rabbit Heart and my dear pal, Sou MacMillan, who invited our little film in to the mix!

Wooster bar

Here is to acorns and many good ways to start our days,








P.S. So maybe you are sipping your tea asking, “Why the heck does she keep writing about poetry?” and I will say that as I take deeper dives in to my own writing and a sense of the holy, the more I crave and am nourished by poetry. Spirit moves easily among and around poems. Poems are like prayers to me. As a mother, I read so many poems to my children. I think poems, especially rhyming poems are part of our collective culture. Think “Hickory dickory dock” or “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves…” I keep a collection of poems that I love here on LLD. Right now, as I overhaul this website, they are just stacked up in the corner. You can find them here.

What happens when I map motherhood:

You remember Evil Knievel, right?
You remember Evil Knievel, right?

On the days that my children are in transit
in canoes,
on motorcycles,
Zone 3, row 8, seat 3B,
dropping in to canyons, laden with heavy backpacks and little water,
on buses crammed with athletes smelling of the game,
I pace our house.
I trip over disorder,
apply tea and weed the chard,
but in no way can I land,
as if my attention is necessary
to the meshing of gears, the geometry of loft,
to passing lanes and winking blinkers,
as if the flapping wings of my own heart
are necessary and required for this
and every passage.

I am sure of it.
Their safe travels
and the grace of angels.

June 27, 2015
Suzi Banks Baum



This is how I work, between visual and literary.
This is how we will work in my Mapping Motherhood workshop at the International Women’s Writing Guild starting on July 24, 2015.
You can join us for part or all of the conference by going here.

How about you? What happens when your kids are on the loose? Do you have visions of Evil Knievel?


Holly Wren Spaulding and hyacinths

Grape hyacinth


April, Again, and Hyacinths

All morning we
talked about
our other lives
sixteen years
since first green
tinge walking
the arboretum
shy children
quiet as mint
while a fast river
watered the roots
of every tree and stem
so easy in bloom
and we said
only half
of what we meant
April again
and hyacinths
cry look at us
in blue as we
wander off
new petals
through dark

—Holly Wren Spaulding, from Pilgrim (Alice Greene & Co., 2014)
used with permission by the author



Pilgrim cover HWSpaulding

I have been waiting for the grape hyacinths to bloom so I could highlight the work of my friend Holly Wren Spaulding. Her new collection of poetry comes in a gust of lake breeze, bearing the scents of love, devotion and moss footed living. Holly writes with her brilliant mind on paper, her heart ink-soaked and her feet wandering the forest, the beach and her inner landscape.
This past weekend I took part in a workshop Holly offered at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. It was quite wonderful to sip on Holly’s wisdom with other poets, a group of humanity that is at once solitary and social, bubbling, but quietly. I don’t consider myself a poet, but I love the language of poetry. There is a collection of poetry here on Laundry Line Divine that you can always find here.

The Powder Keg Ramsdell Sessions meet tonight at the Ramsdell Library at 6:30 PM. This is a free writing workshop.
My next Powder Keg Sunday Session is May 17. Space is limited so please contact me if you are interested.
And on the evening of May 17, I am offering a special event at Lifeworks Studio here in Great Barrington-
an evening of Permission Slips. Curious? Stay tuned here on Laundry Line Divine for more information.

Happy Wednesday!

April is National Poetry Month: Barbara Ungar on Laundry Line Divine


Barbara Ungar Illustration

Hortus Conclusus


after Madonna on a Crescent Moon in Hortus Conclusus

                        by unknown Master, German, 1450’s

    I. Rose

When my mother was but a bud
of five weeks inside her mother, Rose,
Mom’s millions of microscopic eggs

were already intact, long before she bloomed
into Shirley. So you, too, were carried
by your grandmother first,

cradled in your mama’s calyx.

Grandma Rose almost survived
the bloodiest century,
transplanted from the Old World

to the New, where she’s scattered
in a rose garden by a lake,
fertilizing the hybrids. And now

I move through rows and rows
of roses—Memoriam,
Comanche, Moonlight, Montezuma

bounded by a low stone wall.

II. Mobius

The egg is in the woman
as the woman in the garden
the garden in the world
world in the galaxy
galaxy in universe
universe in the Unnamable
as the Unnamable is in the egg.



Barbara Ungar
Barbara Ungar

Barbara Ungar has published four books of poetry, most recently Immortal Medusa and Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life, both Hilary Tham selections from The Word Works. Her prior books are Thrift and The Origin of the Milky Way, which won the Gival Press Poetry Award, a silver Independent Publishers award, a Hoffer award, and the Adirondack Center for Writing poetry award. She is also the author of several chapbooks and Haiku in English. She has published poems in Salmagundi, Rattle, The Nervous Breakdown, and many other journals. A professor of English at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, she coordinates their new MFA program.

A native of Worcester, MA, she grew up in Minneapolis, MN, where she began writing poems at the age of six. She has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Stanford, an M.A. from City College, and a Ph.D. in English from the Graduate Center of CUNY. She lived in Dublin, Ireland for a year, and on the Greek island of Symi for a summer. She spent several years traveling around the world, ending in Italy. She lives in Saratoga Springs, NY.

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