Moon Snail Shell # 85, watercolor painting

Moon Snail Shell # 85, watercolor painting


“See what a lovely shell
Small and pure as pearl
Lying close to my foot,
Frail, but a work divine,
Made so fairly well
With delicate spire and whorl,
How exquisitely minute,
A miracle of design.”
— Alfred Lord Tennyson, from “Maud”

“Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toenails twinkle, makes you want to do this or do that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.”
— Dylan Thomas, from the Huffington Post U.K.‘s “The 50 Greatest Quotes about Poetry from Poets”

Sean's toes

Sean’s toes

I can appreciate twinkling toenails anytime, but it’s good to know that they are one of the indicators of poetry in life.  I don’t feel called to write poems, but I do read them with appreciation, albeit limited understanding.  Should you be encouraged to try your hand at writing a poems this month, you might find Wendell Berry’s words instructive:

How to Be a Poet
By Wendell Berry, from Wendell Berry: New Collected Poems

(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.