Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Progressive Poem 2024 is Here!

 Hello Everyone:

It's my day to add to this year's Progressive Poem. I think this is the third time I've participated in this month-long tradition of adding a line to a poem written by the participants in our Poetry Friday forum.

This idea was started in 2012 by Irene Latham as a celebration of National Poetry Month. The Progressive Poem is now hosted by Margaret Simon. Thank you, Margaret, for this gorgeous graphic and for organizing this year's poem and giving it shape.

Here is the poem so far, with my lines in bold:

cradled in stars, our planet sleeps,
clinging to tender dreams of peace
sister moon watches from afar
    singing lunar lullabies of hope.

almost dawn, I walk with others,
    keeping close, my little brother.
hand in hand, we carry courage
escaping closer to the border.

My feet are lightning;
My heart is thunder.
Our pace draws us closer
to a new land of wonder.

I bristle against rough brush --
poppies ahead brighten the browns.
Morning light won't stay away --
Hearts jump at every sound.
I hum my own little song
like ripples in a stream

And now I pass the poem along to Linda Baie at Teacher Dance. I hope you will follow along!

Here’s the schedule for the 2024 Progressive Poem:

April 1 Patricia Franz at Reverie
April 2 Jone MacCulloch
April 3 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
April 4 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
April 5 Irene at Live Your Poem
April 6 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
April 7 Marcie Atkins
April 8 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God Forsaken Town
April 9 Karen Eastlund
April 10 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
April 11 Buffy Silverman
April 12 Linda Mitchell
April 13 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
April 14 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
April 15 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
April 16 Sarah Grace Tuttle
April 17 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
April 18 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
April 19 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
April 20 Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
April 21 Janet, hosted here at Reflections on the Teche
April 22 Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading
April 23 Tanita Davis at (fiction, instead of lies)
April 24 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
April 25 Joanne Emery at Word Dancer
April 26 Karin Fisher-Golton at Still in Awe
April 27
April 28 Dave at Leap of Dave
April 29 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
April 30 Michelle Kogan at More Art for All

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

A Song of Everyday Miracles

Thanks to Bob Hamera for hosting this month.  You can read about two miracles in his life HERE. Look through his comment section to find links to others in this group. Bob provided our prompt this month, to write about everyday miracles.  

Do you experience miracles in your life? I find miracles through my life experiences, and also through the books that come my way. Frederick Buechner, Kathleen Norris, and Madeline L'Engle were authors who spoke to me in small miracles. Also Sigurd Olson. 

Right now, Jennifer Ackerman's What an Owl Knows is on my reading table. It isn't exactly spiritual, but it does celebrate the many aspects of owls. And owls are one of God's miracles.

We saw a little saw-whet owl sitting on a wire just outside our window in one of our earliest apartments in Minneapolis. It was a cute little thing, no bigger than a robin, and we got a very good look at it. It didn't mind being out during the daylight hours, sheltered as it was between our duplex and the hill full of trees just behind. How lucky to be visited by such a creature.

Thanks to Cornell Lab

Later, walking in her Minneapolis neighborhood with my sister Marion, an owl flew just over my head. To be honest, I missed this encounter altogether, but Marion exclaimed and ducked on my behalf. 

My most memorable owl sighting was in Omaha, visiting my niece Becky.

Just before dusk we began to hear an owl, so we walked into the wooded area to see if we could find it.  No more than twenty steps and there it was, perched on a low branch: a great horned owl! What a gorgeous creature. We stood and stared for a long time, and the owl stared back. After a while we went back in the house and then into the woods again, and the owl was still there. It seemed to be communicating with another owl a short distance away, which we couldn't find. We thought the adult might have been shadowing a fledgling to be sure it was safe.


Now Ackerman's book brings me back to this memory, and teaches me about owls. The vocalizations of owls, for one thing, are much more varied and interesting than I understood. Did you know that owls don't just hoot, they shriek, yap, chitter, squeal, squawk, warble and wail plaintively?  Among great horned owls, the hoot is distinct from one individual to another. The number of notes can differ, and the spacing between hoots can change from one great horned owl to another. Did you know a nesting great horned owl will produce a broken-wing display when threatened? Fascinating!

Check out this little video of owl calls:


Communing with nature centers me and brings me peace. Looking into the eyes of an owl is an exciting and extraordinary experience. And consider that there is always more to learn, and that we as humans hunger for learning. These to me are miraculous.  

I believe the world is full of more miracles than we can imagine. Today it may be owls, but who knows what it will be tomorrow? 

Perhaps the miracle of surprise.

Have a wonderful, miraculous month. The world is waking up. Don't miss it!  

Friday, March 22, 2024

First Blossoms

 It has been off-and-on spring here.  Maybe it's the same with you. We've had 70 degrees and 25 degrees. We've had rain and sun, and the wind has been quite phenomenal.  A front came through yesterday and hit the house like a blast, and knocked over a recycling container. I was concerned for the guy who was taking down a tree at the end of our block. He as hanging from a giant crane, cutting branches from some old white pines. Fortunately he was done with that part of the job. 

Anyway, spring IS here and the early blossoms are nodding in the wind. Do the first bright flowers of spring give you a spark of delight? I tried to capture that feeling as I wrote this haiku.  

Holding my breath for

first flash of lightning - striking

yellow daffodils.

---draft Karen Eastlund

I was reading Diane Ackerman's poetry last night, and came across this lovely poem:

School Prayer Poem

In the name of the sun and its mirrors
and the day that embraces it
and the cloud veils drawn over it
and the uttermost night

and the male and the female
and the plants bursting with seed
and the crowning seasons
of the firefly and the apple,

I will honor all life
—wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell—on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.

Diane Ackerman   (read entire poem HERE.)

The forsythia are blooming now also. New Jersey has a lovely long spring. Today it feels like winter, temperature now is 28, but spring will be triumphant!

Have a wonderful week, and thanks for visiting. Say Hi! in the comments!

Find the rest of the Poetry Friday group at Rose Cappelli's Imagine the Possibilities. She has some lovely bird poems for us today.  Thanks for hosting, Rose!  Click HERE to read her post.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Singing a Song of Mud

 Hello to all my Poetry Friday friends!  Happy March!

We had a lot of rain recently, and the river is brown with mud and my yard is squishy. When I walk I have to be sure to wear shoes that can handle mud. And when I get home, I clap my shoes together to get the mud out from between the lugs. If that doesn't work, I have to scrub with a brush. It is mud season. No doubt about it. So I wrote a poem for Poetry Friday!

Poetry Friday is a weekly blogging event in which poets, writers, readers, and lovers of poetry share blog posts about poetry. It was started by Renee La TuLippe back in 2015 and it's still going strong.

This poem is a nonet. It begins with a line of nine words, then a line of eight, seven, six...   until you reach the last single word.

I felt that mud would be a worthy topic for a poem. You can judge for yourself.

Nonet to Mud

Mud spatters, clings, pulls at wheels, tugs at feet

Mud traipses and tracks through bottomlands, barnyards, doorways

Mud plasters walls, cakes nests, slathers faces

Mud feels cool, gritty, pliable, damp

Mud squishes deliciously between toes

Mud stains rivers brown

Mud smells honest

Mud nurtures


© Karen Eastlund

Also, I remembered a mud song, and I found it performed by Flanders & Swann. Apparently they had a program back in the black and white television days. I don't remember them personally, but I find the performance amusing, and I hope you do also.

Thanks for reading my muddy words. Please leave me some comments. And thanks to Laura Purdie Salas for hosting today. She has a new book to celebrate, so please click in to her blog and give her a note of congratulations. You can find her blog HERE. Then, follow the links at her blog for more poetic goodness.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Songs of Spring Goodness

Welcome to my meanderings for Spiritual Journey Thursday. Ramona is hosting today and she offered the prompt of "gathering goodness." Thank you, Ramona!

This month offers a number of reasons to gather goodness. Spring officially arrives this month, and with it all the hope and labor of new life. And Easter arrives this month, a celebration of life and redemption. My OLW for the year is "song," so I am pleased to share with you this beautiful Redemption Song as arranged and played by the Kanneh-Masons. I always enjoy this family, and their musical offerings are surely good things to gather in your basket.

I've been watching the live video of an eagle's nest, which hatched two fluffy chicks this past  week or two. You can celebrate the new chicks by clicking HERE.  In a few short months these sweet little puffballs will turn into fledgling eagles. The transformation is miraculous and surely a good thing. 

Frederich Buechner wrote:  When God created the creation, God made something where before there had been nothing, and as the author of the book of Job puts it, "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (38:7) at the sheer and shimmering novelty of the thing.   (from Wishful Thinking)

Buechner's description, his "sheer and shimmering" is a delight to me. I hope I never forget that the world awakes new every morning, always ready to surprise and delight us. I hear mourning doves regularly now, as well as a chorus of various twitterings, and I see robins and blue jays, and the geese honking as they fly over. Yesterday I walked to the river and saw several mallards and a merganser winging its way up the river. Every bush seemed to sprout buds overnight. I can almost hear the world waking up, ready to grow and thrive again. 

This beautiful song by John Rutter, sung by a wonderful young chorister, celebrates the goodness of the world. All Things Bright and Beautiful. Enjoy:

I wish you a sheer and shimmering sense of wonder as spring comes into full bloom. In the meantime, check out the offerings by Ramona and other SJT participants. Click HERE.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Big Birds!

 Hello all Friday Poetry Friends and visitors. I'm throwing together a post today, last minute. Why not?!!

I've been trying to write daily as per the Stafford Challenge. I watched Kim Stafford's presentation, but I haven't followed too closely beyond that. Nonetheless, I'm writing more, and that is a good thing. 

So... I watch the eagle nest which is streamed from Duke Farms, near me. Today there's snow in the nest, the wind is up, and the parent eagle is snuggling dried grass around the edge of the incubation area. One day, not long ago, I caught the sight of the nest with two beautiful eggs, but no parent. It took my breath away! Then a happy resolution. So I wrote this little poem:

Two bare eggs in a cold nest

Enters a flourish of feathers

Gentle turning of an egg

Two eggs snuggled

I smile 

-Karen Eastlund, draft

Another day, on my walk along the river, I saw a blue heron in a tree. I'm still struggling to express my impression of that heron, but in my various attempts I wrote this limerick. Call it a draft... it's a draft!


Hunched in the cold on a limb

From his crown to his toes he looks grim

But one jab from his beak

And your chances are weak

When he stalks he can feast at his whim.

- Karen Eastlund, draft

That's it for me today. Find the whole gang at Margaret Simon's Reflections on the Teche

Don't miss her co-mingling of joy and grief in two lovely poems. Thanks for hosting today, Margaret!

Thursday, February 1, 2024

The Song of the Gypsy: Reverie

 Hello everyone, and welcome to February! I don't know about you, but the months tend to sneak up on me. Where did January go?  Nonetheless, each day is a gift, as is the first day of February. Thanks to Patricia Franz for hosting our Spiritual Journey group. She offered "love is" as a prompt, but I chose to take up another of her topics: reverie. Find her "love" post and links to other contributors 

You are no doubt familiar with the painting titled The Sleeping Gypsy by Henri Rousseau as seen below. This image of reverie fascinates me and connects me with a song, and since "song" is my OLW this year, I hope to tie it all together.

Rousseau described The Sleeping Gypsy this way: “A wandering Negress, a mandolin player, lies with her jar beside her, overcome by fatigue in a deep sleep. A lion chances to pass by, picks up her scent yet does not devour her. There is a moonlight effect, very poetic.” 

The Sleeping Gypsy by Henri Rousseau

Good art reaches out to each of us uniquely, and I wrestled with this painting some years ago. The moon glow gives an ethereal quality to the scene. The lion is alert, but calm. The woman fully at rest. And the river is tranquil. What's it all about?

A song/hymn came to me, an old hymn: words by William Williams, 1745.  Music by John Hughes in 1907.

"Guide me, O thou great Jehovah
Pilgrim through this barren land
I am weak, but Thou art mighty
Hold me with Thy powerful hand"

The gypsy knows her vulnerability, and weariness has overtaken her. She has reached the river. Is she is ready to cross over? The lion, in all its strength and majesty, reminded me of Aslan in the C.S. Lewis books. The lion is fierce but will not devour her. Instead, it watches over her, guards her on this beautiful evening. 

Another verse of the hymn:

"When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell's destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan's side"

I was familiar with this hymn's tune and enough of the lyrics that I was able to connect it with Rousseau's image.  In 2016 I wrote a poem using some words of the hymn as well as some lines from Psalm 23. I've updated it for this post and reworded a line from yet another song to end it. 


At last the river!

The sojourner rests

Deep in sleep

Under the round moon


A silent sentinel

Eyes fierce as fire

Watches over her




Her dreams weave 

and flow:


"...Pilgrim through this barren land

Guide me, O thou great..."


Even though I walk through the valley

You are with me


"I am weak, but Thou art mighty..."


Your rod and your staff

Comfort me…


Surely goodness and mercy...

Shine on me this night


I'm finally going 

over home.

Karen Eastlund



There are many recordings of this hymn on YouTube. I hope you like this one with breaking waves in the background, sung by the Fountainview Academy. (How on earth did they get a piano on the beach?)

Another song to pair with this image is Wayfaring Stranger.  Here it is, sung beautifully by Rhiannon Giddens. I chose to end my poem with a slight rewording of the final line from this song. 


I am a poor wayfaring stranger
A-trav'ling through this land of woe.
And there's no sickness, toil or danger
In that bright world to which I go.
I'm going home to see my father (mother, sister, brother etc.)
I'm going there no more to roam;
I'm just a-going over Jordan
I'm just a-going over home.

I know dark clouds will gather 'round me
I know my way is steep and rough;
But beauteous fields lie just beyond me
Where souls redeemed their vigil keep.
I'm going there to meet my mother
She said she'd meet me when I come
I'm just a-going over Jordan
I'm just a-going over home.

I want to wear a crown of glory
When I get home to that bright land
I want to shout Salvation's story
In concert with that bloodwashed band.
I'm going there to meet my Saviour
To sing His praises forevermore
I'm only going over Jordan
I'm only going over home.


May your dreams be full of song and hope.  I wish you a wonderful February.