Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Best Gifts of All

photo by Ellen
beautiful homemade wrapping also by Ellen

At Poets United's Wonder Wednesday, Ella has suggested we select a poem or two that has especially moved, impressed or inspired us, within our poetic community.

What a great idea, in this season of gifts, to recognize the gifts that the words of others bring. When we are hurting, others' words let us know we are not sorrowing alone. When we falter, others encourage. When we need hope, their poems provide it.

I will pick a couple. But truly, every day when I visit all of your blogs, I take away gifts that astound, amaze, encourage and inspire. This is a good time to thank you all for the wonder of this community of beautiful people. You have - each one of you - enriched my life beyond measure. You fill my heart so full, it spills over. 

And that you read my words is the greatest gift of all. You are  the reason I am writing, and when I'm writing, I'm happy. Thank you for this gift.

Shawnacy Kiker, at Guts and Juice, knocked me out with the following poem, a short while back.

Rave On, Beautiful Girl

You are so beautiful, it hurts.
It is the kind of beauty that leaves scars. Cornea-scorching. Like seeing a star up-close.
You slide through the world, slipping between its fingers and between its frantic footfalls like whatever is the opposite of a shadow. Like invisible lava.
You are of such material and construction that the world can’t touch you. Its blows glance off of your lithe, ember body and the only thing that happens is sparks fly.

I dreamed you last night. I dreamed you lost the way to the place where your bones don’t feel hollow, and you stepped out into the furtid night wishing that somehow someone had sent the northern lights to you FedEx, and they were sitting in a disarmingly drab brown box on your doorstep.

You wished for them this way, personally. Not remotely – up in the sky, resting like distant shine on a nameless mountain – but immediate. Ground level. Moving in that ghostly, undulant way over the gum-spattered pavement, performing around your cavernous body a ballet of light.

It was the light you wanted. You wished for it to come and cradle you, defining its green-purple current to every curve and swing of your body. That it would wrap itself around your dull, aching belly, drip down the backs of your knees, weave itself into the space between your fingers, twist in the wilds of your hair. You wished to open your mouth and let it run over your tongue. Down your throat, finding its way into the deeps of you. You stood in the night empty of meaning, and wished to be held. To be held by light. To lay down the heavy emptiness that strangles your thinking and rest.

You wake some mornings in the crablight of a foreign universe, and doubt. You doubt your shine. You doubt the depth of the stains of your feet. You doubt the iron girdings of your soul. You look at your face in the grey reflections of windows and you see small.

And so, beautiful girl, here it is. Your box of light.

It tells you that there lives within you the movement of a holy dark, and it belongs to the part of you that is made of God.

It reminds you what is the shape of your own spiral becoming. It holds you and speaks to you low of what beauty is.

That scar on your left knee from the time you jumped out of the treehouse wearing nothing but a swimsuit and a cape: beauty.

Piles of dirty laundry, you, off-screen laughing the way you did when you were five and you jumped out of the treehouse wearing nothing but a swimsuit and cape: beauty.

Walking the unseen sleepless hours in a marble of glass and black: beauty.

Your hair – long hair, short hair, pink hair, yellow, hair in braids or dreds or up in a ballcap or shaved off, spiked up, falling in chunks on the bathroom floor at 3am under the jagged flash of raging sissors hair, – hair like a single word, shouted a thousand times out of the top of your head: beauty.

The way the world folds around you when you walk: beauty.

The way you said to me, ‘It is all unthinkably perfect, and it is never enough’: beauty

And there’s more. If you can take it.

There’s the restless faith,

Your eyes, that wander the earth – the one that is and all the ones that are not – out windows full of rain; eyes that blaze and slice the universe into right-shaped pieces, and keep them wordlessly in hidden pockets,

There’s what happens to you when you see a red leaf riding gutter rivers, there are hands that don’t ask questions and a mind that never stops asking. A room that houses 4,327 books and no curtains.

There’s being afraid, and never letting the fear win. The ragged spaces that refuse comfort. The words that sit beneath your breastbone in strange languages that your mouth cannot speak. There’s the endless dancing hours in every weather, and every single warrior tear.

That one lifetime is nowhere near enough.

All of it: beauty

So you burn all your shoes and hang your walls with livid dreaming.

You wrap yourself in the spoils of your victories and of your defeats, that you may feel with every movement the force of your own wondrous intention.

Beautiful girl, build your home- the home of your soul-

and then rip off the roof. Because you are uncontainable.

In you burns the memory of distant flight.

Your soul is light and wends like a cloud through the deeps of the blue eternity


as you muddy your hands and feet.

There is within you an organ that plays on the music of your vast breath. It is apart from you – unmuteable – and it lives and sounds within your every cell

Turn its music up. Let it quake and roll in your bones, in your slow unquiet blood.

Gorgeous wanderer , keeper of the way, and of the way to the way,

who knows her destination

is always only the next step,





 Copyright © 2012 Shawnacy Kiker

I wish every girl-child could hear these words from someone who loves her. Thanks, Shawnacy. You keep shining! You're a beautiful girl yourself!

Of course we all know Fireblossom at Shay's Word Garden. The difficulty here is choosing one poem, as every one of her pieces just knocks me out! Since I had to choose one, I picked this one, for the lions, and the Serengeti:

A Serengeti Gospel

I was called by the matrilineal.

Already, from my grandmother, I had learned that one who lies so still will not rise again except in dreams;

From my aunt, I learned that laughter vexes the devil. Her example came loudly and often, delighting the child that I was;

And from my mother I learned that nothing is safe, and not to trust love.

I wanted more. I longed to join the lionesses, and so I sold my car, my house, my jewelry,

And found myself at the edge of the Serengeti.

I stripped down and walked into the heart of lion country.

You may think,

This was a fool's errand;

But the lionesses recognized me at once, and immediately I found myself

Watching the cubs,

Joining the hunt.

My body grew brown and tough,

My nails long and sturdy.

I crouched in the tall grasses with the others, and as we stalked the buffalo herd,

I looked at my sisters and their avid teeth, their golden eyes shining and I recalled a woman,

In an upstairs flat in summer time.

She called me "you sweet sweet bitch." That was the first time.

Then we are bursting into the open in streaks of yellow,

Like shooting stars,

And I am where I belong.

We are the lionesses, and we stay together for life.

The males come and go, depending upon who beats the daylights out of who at any given time.

That is not my concern.

My concern is to kill.

There is no cruelty in it, only pragmatic necessity.

If I return with nothing, my children cannot eat mercy.

For them, it is dinner or death, and so I chase, spring, and strike,

Without remorse;

And after all, I did not invent this arrangement.

This night, I have run to ground a member of a television reality program;

As I crush my victim's throat, a man wearing a baseball cap cries, "Are you getting this? Are you getting it?!?"

I drag the dead actor away.

Hyenas harass me, but my sisters come to my aid and we leave one of the thieves with an opened flank.

We eat well, growing lazy and contented.

This has become my home.

My life is bound together with the others;

I have almost forgotten that I am human,

And this is not such a bad thing.

A camera woman using night vision trains her lens on me--

I feel something,


Then I dip my head and show my teeth.

Whatever it was is gone.

[copyright Fireblossom]

And, lastly, in keeping with the season, my friend Lynette at Imagination Lane, wrote this wonderful haiku to accompany the photo her husband, Michael Killam,  snapped of her and some children on their visit to Africa. Lynette's writing, haiku and beautiful photos from all over the world, are amazing. It is always a rich feast, when one visits Imagination Lane!

'Neath skin dark or light
beats a heart that knows only
the color of love.

May you be gifted with that love.

copyright   Lynette Killam

See, kids? A feast, every day, as we travel the blogosphere, gathering delights.

Thanks to all of you who so brighten my life. 

Merry Christmas, and may the New Year 
bring you only good things.


  1. Thank-you for sharing this stunning, BREATH-STEALING beauty of poetry and love!


  2. I can't even pick a favorite among your choices - they are all perfect.

  3. I am so filled with love and all that is good right now that it spills (like you said). Thank you so much for these beautiful poems that make my soul dance to the tune of "I am beautiful". :)

  4. Oh, Sherry,I so love these---each a different gift! Thank you!

  5. This is a wonderful selection of incredible poetry, Sherry.

  6. Aw, Sherry. What beautiful poems you selected. They blew me away. Thank you for sharing these. May you also have a wonderful, blessed Christmas. And may the New Year bring you tons and tons of joy.

  7. Sherry, really enjoyed reading your choices. What gifts they were indeed!

  8. "Rave On, Beautiful Girl" is the best poem, by anyone, ever.

    I'm honored that you chose one of mine, and tickled that you chose this one, since you were instrumental in the writing of that opening line!

  9. I'm in awe of these talented souls~
    I love their visions, voices and view of the world! Brilliance dazzles in these poems~ :D

  10. You share the work of some of my favorites. They know how to rock the words, the boat, our world.

  11. Such a wonderful collection of poetry. Thanks for sharing it.

  12. I'll have to come back to read Fireblossom's poem (which I've read before and loved). I am still reeling from the intensity of "Rave on, Beautiful Girl" by Shawnacy Kiker. It is the most affirming poem I have ever read. Is it for and about you? What a gift! It raised me up, and I have to go and float around a while and ground this power! Thank you for the re-gift. I hope you heed it yourself, my dear.

  13. Great choices, Sherry! I'd never read Rave On, Beautiful Girl before, and I'm so glad I did! All girls should have someone whispering this in their ears. And you KNOW I love FB. I like how you put a haiku right next to hers (hee hee), as she's so fond of them! I, however, love it as well!

  14. ^^^^Lolamouse is evil. I've always thought so!

  15. They are wonderful, arent they? No, Beautiful Girl was not written for me (nor the Serengeti lions:))but whoever it was meant for, its beauty, truth and affirmation hopefully gave its recipient wings.

  16. Sherry,

    Thank you for bringing these words from the poem Rave on Beautiful girl, into my life today. It was a fresh and powerful poem.
    Nice to discover someone new and just as welcoming as all the usual and wondeful poets we all meet here each week; especially thanks to you Sherry:)
    Happy Christmas and New Year:)


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