Friday 12 August 2022
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“Spring Cleaning” – A Poem and Reflection on the Role of Poetry in Our Lives

Poetry for me, both reading it and writing has always been a way of life. From a child making up metaphors with my English teacher father or a teenager filling spiral notebooks with angst and devouring Anne Sexton to an adult battling life’s daily perplexities by stashing emergency poems in a folder in the lower desk drawer at work, this art form for me can transform the worse mood simply by expressing all the mess, joy, sorrow, confusion, achievements, wonder and mystery of life through words. There is nothing in the world that is not poetry. Reading a good poem that speaks to you wakes you up. Comforts you or challenges you. Makes you think, laugh, cry and brings you closer to what really matters in life.

2014 Tulips

Writing a poem can take you on a journey to the places where the masks fall away and you start to meet your true self. It aids in that brave and difficult work that Rilke so eloquently expounds upon in his Letters to a Young Poet of “living the question” when it seems there are no answers. (19 year old  poet Frank Kappus wrote to Rilke for advice and Rilke ended up writing him ten amazing letters which Kappus later published.) You can read the excerpt about living the question here.

2014.03.08 Cat and broom

I have recently begun writing poetry again as a way to again live my own questions. Because I am guilty of often wishing I were somewhere else or even someone else. Because I replay the past like an overwatched movie. Because I am really afraid of death. Because sometimes I snap at people. Because I hate vacuuming. But also because I love  sipping a cup of coffee with a friend. And because sometimes driving through the Pennsylvania mountains in summer I am so struck by the beauty of the verdant hills, blue sky and porcelain clouds converging I feel I am truly one with everything. Because I am alive and living.

cats & balloon

And so I share this poem I wrote today that attempts to express this interplay of daily mundane struggles and spiritual yearning in our lives and how they are really the same thing even if we don’t always notice.

Spring Cleaning


Dirt clutter dust-

Dust …ashes to ashes… I think…

The childhood refrain

fills me

with a sorrow for the time

I have lost.


My head is in the future wondering which man to love.

My head is in the past wondering how different I would be

if I never lived in California.


And I must remind myself to bring my head here-

to Scranton with its pain and still spring chill in April and mess

in the kitchen with the dust pan and the cats-

those orange and black wonders living always in a Kairos time

of  sleeping and leaping –



this moment already disappearing

giving birth to a new one-


This is everything.

Cleaning and breathing.


Tacked on my wall is a torn calendar page

with a quote from Goethe-

Nothing is worth more than this day.

Someone gave me a necklace once with the same phrase…


These are the signs we should follow

But the day is lost over and over  and over again.


Still, if we are lucky another one appears.

And we can choose to notice this time.


And sometimes go beyond the noticing -if only briefly-


To awakening to our beautiful life.


To brooms. To cats. To the sky through the window.

To one’s own flawed bones

Sweeping debris into a blue dust pan.





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