Napo 20

 I'm still behind, though my days have been filled with poetry nonetheless. 

Yesterday, I presented at the Valley International Poetry Festival, my old stomping grounds. I moderated a panel on Odes and Elegies, an anthology I recently edited and published through Lamar U Literary Press. It was great to see some old friends and new faces, too.

Today, I'm giving a presentation on poetry at the Cape Girardeau Public Library for National Poetry Month. My talk is titled "How to Not Hate Poetry!" I'm hoping to discuss ways to approach, appreciate, and experience poetry that aren't intimidating. I'll share some of my favorite poems and read a few of my own, too. It should be fun! The library tells me no one has signed up for my talk, but I am not going to let that phase me. It will be streamed live on Facebook and archived, too. My good friend Cathy Lopez, who was an MFA classmate, invited me to do this, so we'll get a chance to jabber on about the magic of poetry! 

At any rate, here's my poem for today. The prompt was to read an article about an animal and then substitute an abstraction for each time that animal's name was mentioned. Then, to use that as a basis for a poem. I've been reading some Ross Gay lately and meditating on "gratitude." It's also spring, so I'm thinking of hummingbirds. Hummingbirds don't visit Nebraska in the spring like they do in Texas--they come here in the fall. So I'm missing them. But surprisingly, sometimes I DO spot them (of maybe believe I spot them...) while hiking in the woods. Anyway, isn't gratitude like that? Spontaneous, beautiful, and fleeting? Exhilarating? Joyful? Always in need of sweetness to survive? There are some delicious parallels. 

Attracting Gratitude


For most of us, it will not show up

In its emerald best unless

coaxed by beauty and sweetness.


Gratitude migrates in the heart—

Some seasons, it’s easy to spot,

Like in late summer when

The air is humid and gratitude

Naturally migrates to the lips.


Other times, in winter,

it’s never been spotted.

Something about snow-packs

And its hot heart.


This is a reminder to put out

A gratitude feeder—

To welcome it to rest

In the nest of your psyche

For a moment, take respite

in the garden of your throat,

sip from the well of your sweetness.

Understand that gratitude

Needs nourishment to survive,

And you can help ensure

It doesn’t perish

in the concrete jungle of the city.


Know when gratitude season is

In your area. Does it migrate to you,

Or are you a breeding ground

For it, a mature woodland that attracts

Gratitude all summer long?


Know that gratitude comes in species—

Sudden like an unexpected kiss,

The casual muttered thank you,

The manifested kind that grows

Deep in the forests of the soul.

Rare, out-of-range gratitude

Can and does exist here.

Remember, even though

There are general patterns

Of occurrence, gratitude

Does not always follow them,

So be ready for surprises.


Now that you know the kinds of gratitude

the next step is to “set the table”

So it will visit you.

Plant a garden full of salvias

That bloom in late October.

Offer nectar to the soul.

Create a tiny mote

To keep the pests away

That would sip and sip and sip

Until your gratitude feeder

Runs dry.


Enjoy  gratitude season.

If you observe a species

Of gratitude that you

Are unable to identify,

Feel free to send me a photo.