Rush Pond Trail

Part of the risk and exhilaration-cum-embarrassment of writing daily and posting daily for the 30/30 Project is the sudden realization (after hours of drafting and editing) that two more tweaks would make a huge difference in your fledgling poem-child. Here’s today’s post, with alterations. If you’d like to support this nonprofit endeavor, please go to 30/30 Project, click on “Donate,” and be sure to mention “Kathleen McCoy” in the “Honor” field to credit your gift toward my fundraising goal. Happy trails. . . .

Rush Pond Trail / Kathleen McCoy

The other day my daughter showed me
I had to slow her down so we could talk,
allow the woods to shield us from obsessing
on the news. She flicked her flopping ponytail

behind her, smiled—she’d meet me later
at the house—plugged in her music, jogging on,
knowing the trail but not which branch to choose.
My music came from red-eyed vireo and thrush.

Felled white birch bits rested in a bed
of ferns in a room with green couches
of mossed maple; then I saw the forties roadster
careened into a trunk and left to rust,

right door missing, now nest for raccoons,
rabbits, squirrels. Eventually I reached the bridged
marsh, largely green and blooming with water lilies
and the unabashed purples of swamp milkweed.

What pilgrims trekked these woods
before the path was cleared? Acclimated
woodsmen, sticky wood-wise children, herb-
smart women, broad aprons for sacks?water_lily_Rush_Pond

Today my girl is purple wildflower, floating lily,
hers the chatter of invisible vireo, ethereal
song of wood thrush reverberating in the pines;
I, the rusty car, part of my right side missing,

open to air and moss and the steady passing-by of life
in all its forms. Tomorrow I will be the bed of ferns,
the green couch greeting her upon return
from her shadow-laced trail of song and surprise.

Black Holes, White Holes, and Rainbows

Poets know black holes. Our heads are full of them at times. As are our houses. And our calendars. Or is it just me?

I’m focusing on white holes at the moment. True, to discuss them “we may have to go out on an astronomical limb” (PBS Nova, “Are White Holes Real?”); nevertheless, the concept of an inverse to the life/time/sanity/existence-sucking power of a black hole–something that emits Hawkian radiation, a kind of poetic, albeit theoretical, brilliance–entices. It offers hope. Yes, there are holes you can’t get out of, cosmic joy-sappers, but there just may also be voids of creation, or at least light-emission zones. And if they’re out there in the cosmos, the writer speculates, maybe, just maybe, they’re also in here (the hapless poet taps her temple for emphasis).

My point is that I’m back to blogging and writing, after a hiatus for life-coping, job-learning reasons of little interest to fellow poets and writers. You all have them: times when illness, death, surgery, family needs, learning curves, job challenges (yours or your mate’s), pets, political tension, finances, and general entropy seem to conspire against the odds of your pumping extra creative juices through your cerebrum. Your black-hole times.

That’s precisely when it’s time to declare a White Hole Time.

During July, I’m participating in the 30/30 Project of Tupelo Press, committed to writing 30 poems in 30 days. This will mean a number of things, including but not limited to the following. (1) No excuse short of personal coma will keep me from writing daily this month. (2)  No procrastinating. Writing comes first. (3) Perfectionism has been given the boot. While aiming for quality, 30/30 poets have to press on, trusting their guts and knowing the revision will continue after the poems are posted. (4) My family, assured repeatedly of my enduring love, will have to deal with wife/mom who lives in her home office and lets the dishes pile up until bedtime. Occasional muttering must be tolerated.

I would be delighted if you would consider donating toward my fundraising goal. Be sure to name “Kathleen McCoy” in the “Honor” box to credit my goal for the 30/30 Project. If you would have a subject you’d like me to write about, leave a comment. It’s an exciting endeavor, gathering poets from across the country who write in a variety of styles and support one another throughout the month–all to help out an award-winning independent press that publishes high-quality poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

This week, the SCOTUS surprised and delighted us with its vote for marriage equality. There are rainbows everywhere. And in undertaking 30/30, I realize there are real benefits for the “marathon poets” who participate. We are creating a virtual space where we can focus on white holes, rainbows, sparrows–anything that engages, enrages, delights, or endures our attention.

Suddenly, my teenage daughter is focusing on her summer homework! When I took a moment to praise her, she shrugged it off with, “Well, it’s easier when you’re out of the way.” Permission to retreat can be bittersweet.

Art should be for all of us. It’s an expression of love, passion, curiosity, longing, faith, doubt, unity, dissent–all the thoughts and emotions that help us embrace our humanity. Take a moment to check out the 30/30 Project. It’s art for all of us.

For Love of Poetry

I’ll be writing 30 poems in 30 days for the 30/30 Project throughout the month of July.  I’m quite excited about this opportunity because it’s a win-win-win: you can get a tax-deductible charitable deduction on 2015 taxes if you wish; I get my poems published on the Tupelo Press 30/30 blog page throughout July, and we all help Tupelo Press, a leading independent publisher of new and established American poets that publishes books, a literary journal, and chapbooks. Donations go not to me (at all!) but to Tupelo Press.The link to donate and read the poems of the day is below.
I have been asked to participate and have set a goal of $400. Anything you can spare will help–but there are incentives for giving a little more. If you give $30 and email me with a poem request, I will write a poem for you (or your occasion, friend, or family member; give me some information to work with, please). If you give $50, I will travel (within the Capital District of New York State) to your venue to do a poetry reading as my schedule allows or will write you a review of your original poetry (up to 20 pages of poems) for your use. For any donor who wishes, I would be happy to mail you an oversized poem postcard (glossy and suitable for mailing or for framing).
If you can give, please do. Go to https://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project/ , select “DONATE” and be sure to name “Kathleen McCoy” in the “honor” area to credit your gift toward my fundraising pledge. You will have my eternal gratitude, as well as the pleasure of knowing that you are contributing to a meaningful and innovative literary endeavor.

Mama’s Proverbs

IMG_1487in memory of Eva Leah Robinson McCoy

Bite into the apple of love, enjoy its juice
and let the seeds fall all around you.

~
Lips and hands must measure
before they dispense their wares.

~
Set an extra plate for an unexpected guest—
someday it could be you.

~
What you most despise in your sister’s eyes
is what your own reflection reveals.

~
Darkness and rain
bring birdsong.

~
A stately house shrinks beside the simple one
whose walls vibrate with laughter.

~
To stand your tallest,
plant your feet on rock.

~
No one can schedule a natural birth
and it isn’t over when the cries begin.

~
Ask for your desire and when you receive it
offer it up again.

~
When the sun shines, focus its light in your body
and when the rains pour down, the rocks will gleam before you.

~
Take the hands of children for they fix their eyes on you
and when you grow weak they will scoop you into their arms.

~
The race goes to the horse
who runs for utter joy.

Kathleen McCoy

Pretty Words . . .

elude me this winter, this long winter. The snow remains, melting flake by flake. Even so, we know the day will come when ground is sufficiently dry to respond, to whip grains of ground into a mini-vortex and send its origami cranes skyward again. Writers can’t wait. We witness it all, we soak in snow, we turn blue, we shake ourselves dry and warm ourselves up and go out again and again until at last the rustling begins, the winds lift our latches, open our cocoons.

Eudora Welty tells us “True daring starts from within” where, whatever the weather, we’re not just waiting. We’re raw, we’re real, we’re ready.

Writing and Empathy

Kathleen McCoy:

Marilyn McCabe’s reflections on faith and success seem particularly germane this Easter season. Writers and wonderers, consider.

Originally posted on Marilynonaroll's Blog:

A poem by Dante Di Stefano, “A Drone Pilot Discusses the Story of Abraham and Isaac” (http://www.amethystarsenic.com/issues/4-1/dante-di-stefano.php) compares Abraham’s faith on that day he offered up his son to the kind of everyday faith with which we live our mundane lives, faith that, for example, if we wait in line at a store, we will be served, if we offer up our credit card, the purchase will be successful. “You don’t question the altar or the knife,” he writes. “You don’t ever doubt that the Walmart/will carry the Tide marker you need…” This is kind of stunning, this deep empathy with Abraham’s point of view, speculative though it may be, ironic, rueful. I thought of this poem when I heard a lecture by Alain de Botton about our culturally-based ideas of success and failure (http://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_a_kinder_gentler_philosophy_of_success). He claims our contemporary understanding of them can lead us to discount the…

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