Posts Tagged ‘hope’


After almost two years
of growing only leaves,
the orchid that sat
on the back windowsill,
the one I have dutifully
watered and whispered to,
the one I had finally
resolved to throw away,
sent up a single spiraling stem,
shiny and darksome green,
and I who have needed
years to hide, to heal,
felt such joy rise in me
at the site of tight buds,
the kind of irrational joy
one feels when something
thought dead is found alive,
not only alive, but on the edge
of exploding into beauty,
and now it doesn’t seem
so foolish after all, does it,
this insistent bent toward hope.

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after the painting “The Bedroom” by Vincent van Gogh and the piano composition “Yellow Bed” by Kayleen Asbo

In the tilted room with the yellow bed,
hope waltzes on the wooden floor—
one, two, three, one, two, three—
not that you see it there,
it’s not obvious like the windows,
the paintings, the mirror, the pitcher, the chairs.
Hope is what you don’t see.
But it is there, beside the water glasses,
beside the long towel.
Hope sways so keenly
to snatches of melody
the whole room seems to sway.
And it’s one, two, three,
one, two, three; Who, hope says,
will dance with me? It promises
friendship. It promises rest.
Will you dance? it asks, a dizzy mess.
It promises community. It promises fame.
Will you dance? it asks, but it smells
of paint and faraway dreams.
It smells of madness and longing to be seen.
Will you dance? it says, its arms flung out.
Here is where Vincent said yes.
Some see a still life, but others see
the whirling, the twirling, the beautiful
spinning of hope, reeling hope,
fragile hope.

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inspired by Almond Blossom by Vincent van Gogh and music by Kayleen Asbo by the same name

I want to hang a painting
of almond blossoms
above your bed
so when you wake
the first thing you see
are delicate white petals
and a sky a thousand shades of blue.
I want you to wake every morning
into an ever-emerging sense of spring—
wake into sunshine,
wake to a world of splendor
and extravagant blossoming.
Of course, the fall.
Of course, the struggle.
Of course, the difficult days.
And of course, the almond blossoms,
painted in creams, pinks and greens
each one an insistent grace note
that lingers beyond its season,
promising something improbable
and utterly necessary,
like ever-blooming beauty,
like the light and airy perfume of hope.

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So insistent
the apricot petals
press against
the winter buds
to emerge
first white
then pink,
like millions
of tiny proofs
for hope:
the softest
parts of us
struggle and
swell against
the hardened shell
of I can’t
and open

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Becoming the Bird

Once on a bridge
I had met a hope,
a radiant maybe,
a glint of perhaps,
but I am so far
from that glint today
that when I stand
again on that bridge
I almost hate hope
with its stupid wings,
always promising
to carry us toward
something better.
I stand on that bridge
and stand on that bridge,
my inner perch
empty, silent.
I turn to face
the autumn wind.
It batters my bare skin. 
I sing full-throat into the gale.

*This poem is in conversation with Emily Dickinson’s famous poem, “Hope is the thing with feathers …” which you can find here

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Sometimes when I fall long enough,
I stop hoping I will stop falling.
In those moments, when I no longer
wish for the wings of an answer,
or for the solid ground of resolution,
such beautiful surrender
in the dropping through space,
in submitting to the weight
of what it takes to hold a soul.

I wonder if Icarus felt it, too. Perhaps,
if only for a moment, he knew
the rush of air, the thrill of not trying
to inhibit the tumble, the gift of knowing
self as free fall, the skill of giving in,
every prayer coming out as sound of wind.

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One Dedication

hope gets a flat tire—
stubborn, the heart
starts walking

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Nudged by hope
the heart rises
from exhaustion.

It’s like the great blue heron
I saw this morning
flying up from a wasteland

on broad gray wings
with strong, slow beats
for a moment charged

with grace
before—did you
see this, heart?—

it chose to land again,
bringing all its beauty
to the desolate place.

This poem is published in the wonderful ONE ART Poetry Journal

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Thanking the Christmas Cactus

Tonight, for a moment,
my world shrinks to the size
of the Christmas cactus,
which, despite the storm
that even now blusters outside,
has opened dozens of voluptuous
red blooms, as if to say,
Here I am, blooming midwinter,
and you can do it, too.
There are days when
the news makes me doubt
the value of blooming—
when the headlines alone
twist hope into a crumpled,
unrecognizable heap.
But then some snippet
of beauty finds me—
a scarlet flower,
a handwritten letter—
and breaks any scale
I would use to interpret
the world. It’s not that the terror
goes away, no. But for a few
moments, I am blessed
with the certainty
that even the smallest beauty matters
and that it is my job
to meet life however it appears—
petal, bomb, sweetness, pain—
grateful for my humanness,
vulnerable and tenuous
though it is.

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“We have a lot of things we are in the midst of. What do you think this moment is inviting us to understand? Where would you like to be in spring? Where would you like to see us as a world be?” 

—Kara Johnstad, Voice Rising Host, Om Times Radio

For a sliver

of a moment

I cradled

the whole world

in my thoughts—

every president,

peasant, seamstress,

beggar, businessman,

acrobat, child—

every one of us

a vessel

and I knew

in that instant

the power

of a wish—

as if hope

has a foothold

in reality,

as if a slim glimmer

is inevitable


of unstoppable radiance.

With quiet clarity

I knew exactly

what I wish

for each of us—

I told her, too—

but I will refrain

from telling you.

Instead, I’ll hand you

the question

so you, too,

might make a wish,

so that you, too,

might glimmer,

might beacon.

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