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November 21, 2012

Forever Thankful

Ours will be the smallest Thanksgiving ever this year, with a grand total of three at our table. Our family's first incomplete Thanksgiving occurred the year our mother died. That year we set her usual place with a lighted candle. This year, I will light one beautiful candle for all the loved ones who have preceded me to another life and will remember them with deepest gratitude. The following poem has appeared at more than one friend's or family member's funeral service. I've found that it nearly always strikes a chord with others. Gratitude can indeed outweigh, outpace, and overshadow grief.  May your gratitude be greater than your grief, this Thanksgiving and always.

Photo, Ysabel de la Rosa

I Accept


Grief is great pain borne on greater gratitude for all the
presence the absent one bequeathed

Gratitude for the music of the memories
I play and replay in mind and heart

Gratitude for all that was, is, and will be you:
the many gifts of time and heart, the work done well,
the laughter shared,
 the joy and the sorrow

Gratitude for all you gave to all and to me,
each gift of self wrapped ’round with love

I accept the pain your absence brings,
for I have known you, loved you, and you
have known me, loved me;
for God has loved us and
we have loved God together

For all this, I accept this great grief
with even greater gratitude


Poem and photo copyright Ysabel de la Rosa, all rights reserved.

November 15, 2012

The Wise One

I "met" this poem's author when she edited an anthology to which I submitted some work a few years ago. Sometimes, even just with a brief email, you feel and know that you are in the presence of someone special. That is certainly the case with poet Margaret Mullins. Her book of poems Family Constellation was published this year by Finishing Line Press. I still remember the afternoon (at least 20 years ago) when I wrote in my journal that I believe constellations are the best metaphor to "define" families.  When Margaret's Family Constellation was published, I had to have it! It is a jewel of a book. I'll be posting more of Margaret's work, but I like this poem so much, I want it to appear on its own.

Photo, Ysabel de la Rosa

by Margaret Mullins

He was a brilliant, angry, funny man
who had always hated cats. He cursed them,
hissed at them, rattled his tools at them.
For eighty-five years he railed against them,
their arrogance, their uselessness, their devious ways.
Then, when he came to die at my house,
my cat jumped onto his bed and settled in.
He growled and grumbled about damned cats,
but she stayed, and I watched as he softened.
He hand-fed her scraps of his meals; she nuzzled his chin.
He scratched her ears and she purred into his.
When he was awake, she curled into his elbow
and when he slept, she laid her soft head on his bony shoulder.
She never left him until, quietly, he left.

Poem, copyright Margaret S. Mullins. Previously published in Loch Raven Review.

Margaret Mullins studied international public health at Johns Hopkins and writing at the University of Maryland and has worked in health projects, public affairs and housing rehabilitation in the U.S. and Latin America. She is the editor of the anthology MANORBORN. Her work has appeared in Prairie Poetry, Loch Raven Review, Welter, New Voice News, Manorborn, Sun, and Chesapeake Reader.

November 12, 2012

Facing Our Own

 Illness has a way of making us think about our ultimate deadline with a clarity that can either paralyze us with fear or set us free to reach new heights. Rosie Garland's recently published book, Everything Must Go, takes the reader on her journey of facing the ultimate deadline. She faced her diagnosis of throat cancer with a weapon we all can wield: poetry. Sometimes a book's title springs on us and serves as a kind of mantra. Everything Must Go is currently doing that for me. Indeed, every thing must go, as must each and every one of us. What will our attitude be about that part of our human journey? Rosie's poem gives us some transformative instructions to that end. 

A Donor’s Card
by Rosie Garland

There’s nothing here that I’ll be needing.
I don’t do souvenirs. No grave-goods,
no grave. No-one will do their back in
digging me a hole; nor have the job

of unpeeling rotten carnations from my marker.
Stretch me out in a place of arc-lights. Open me up.
Reveal my inner workings, the plot twist no-one was expecting.
Let the harvesting commence. May my heart thump love

in the warm nest of another’s ribs, my liver filter
someone else’s happy anniversary, my lungs give voice
to laughter and whistling out of tune at bus stops.
Lay me to rest under the bright faces, the white coats of angels.


Poem copyright Rosie Garland, all rights reserved. 
Rosie Garland is a poet, writer and performance artist. She has won several awards, including the Dada Award for Performance Artist of the Year and the Diva Award for Solo Performer, and has performed at prestigious venues in Britain, the USA and other countries. Her first novel The Palace of Curiosities is to be published in 2013.  
Read more about Rosie at Holland Park Press.

November 9, 2012

Comfort in Conversation

Once again, I have the pleasure of posting a poem by Donal Mahoney.  Always well-written, finely tuned, and meaningful, Donal's poems have a way of making me feel strengthened, both physically and spiritually.



by Donal Mahoney

Listen, Dad,
Mom's dead, but
you can dance
with her again.

She's waiting
in the sky, behind
a star, humming
to the music.

You and Mom
can waltz around
the moon forever.
She may even sing

that song you like.
I'll comb your hair,
shine your shoes
and press your old tuxedo.

There's no rush.
You know Mom.
She'd never dance
with anyone but you.
Poem copyright Donal Mahoney, all rights reserved.
See Donal's other posts: 
Power and the Moment
Life was Good When ...


Before computers were invented, Donal Mahoney worked as an editor for the The Chicago Sun-Times. During that era and since then, he has had poems published in The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal Magazine, Catapult to Mars (Scotland), Public Republic (Bulgaria), Revival (Ireland), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), The Camel Saloon, Dead Snakes and other publications. Revising poems on a computer, he says, beats the hell out of revising them on a typewriter.  You can read more of Donal's poetry here.