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Archive for the ‘Poems by Margaret Longenecker Been’ Category

March Sun

It wouldn’t be very nice to say “Good Riddance” to the month that brings Groudhog Day and Valentine’s Day, and lots of cozy indoor days for reading, knitting, and painting—but at age 79 we tend to say exactly what we think.  And that’s what I think.  I’ve enjoyed February, but I’m not sobbing over her demise!  And I’m glad it’s not Leap Year or we’d have an extra day of February.

A few nights ago, when the full moon rose in the east over our front yard park it occurred to me that the next full moon would coincide approximately with the vernal equinox.  I don’t have to express what this means to us Northerners, and none of my prose renderings could even begin to do the job.  But perhaps a little poem might work.

March Sun . . .

. . . knows a tricky way of turning corners

slipping into curtained rooms through cracks,

crawling under eaves and glinting dust

on wintered dreams.

© Margaret Longenecker Been

:) :) :) :) :)  Hello MARCH!

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The Colour of Terrible Crystal

(referring to the firmament above Ezekiel’s chariot vision, recalled by the visual of a sunset)

Topaz, beryl, peridot

steeped in royal purple

dipped in blood . . . .

We are not Ezekiel by the Chebar,

yet exiled for a time

on this fallen planet we call “home”

we dream through half-remembered mist

while four-faced chariots surge Heavenward—

each face four within a face and tandem wings,

incandescent chariots with eye-encrusted rims

and omnipresent wheels.

Land riveted,

we could lose our half-remembered dream

but for the brilliance of terrible crystal

radiating westward twilight-wise,

rushing, surging, beckoning . . .

Topaz, beryl, peridot

steeped in royal purple,

dipped in blood.

© Margaret Longenecker Been

Note:  After Easter, I hope to begin adding to the Paintings and Poems page on this site — adding my paintings and additional poems by (not only me but) poets whose work I love. 

My painting passion has taken a sharp right turn toward the abstract in recent months, and I’ve many new renderings that I want to share with you.  Enjoy the ride on Paintings and Poems.   :)

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Resurrection hymns

resound on melting lake . . .

The Canadas are back

_________________________________

Heaven is ringing

with songs of northbound geese

breaking up the winter

_________________________________

Heartless euphoria . . .

soon we’ll dash out blithering

Oh, Oh, Spring!

 

Margaret Longenecker Been, ©2006

Published in BRUSH STROKES, Word Paintings by Margaret Longenecker Been, Elk River Books, Phillips, Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

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I wrote the following lines, thinking they might make a good epitaph:

I’ve always needed something in my hands . . .

a doll, a Teddy bear, kitten, puppy, infant,

new-born lamb, bread dough, yarn and knitting needles, 

a teacup, pen and paper, book, steering wheel, handkerchief,

a piece of quartz, an oak leaf, acorn, chestnut,

bouquet of daisies, dried hydrangeas . . .

EARTH! 

I’ve always needed something in my hands, and will

until You pry my fingers loose and lead me, empty handed,

HOME!

© Margaret Longenecker Been

Everyone knows I love words.  I never bothered to talk as a toddler, and until I turned two years old my parents were afraid I’d never talk.  Then I turned two, and my parents were suddenly afraid that I’d never stop.  I recall my mother telling someone: “Margaret can talk a bird down out of a tree”!

Shades of loquacity notwithstanding, what may be an even stronger trait exists in my DNA—the tactile gene.  This gene is an actual hunger at all times of the year.  Indeed over the winter holidays, when much of our time is occupied with pleasant social gatherings, the hunger intensifies to a point where I realize I HAVE to take my knitting along to group occasions in order to maintain soul balance—and also that I will not eat all the available goodies.  I must have something in my hands.

The hunger continues, rampantly noticeable, throughout the rest of the winter as I dream of the gardening season ahead—when bare hands in earth will be satisfied and filled with rejoicing.  Meanwhile, I repot houseplants—taking special care to get some of the soil under my fingernails while indulging my sense of smell in the heady fragrance of green roots in wet earth.  I paint with a paintbrush, but relish the traces of alizaron crimson and French ultramarine on my fingers.  I stroke my doggie’s back and pat his head, while revelling in the softness of his fur and the smoothness of his velvety ears.

And I knit!  Yarn has special appeal as each variety has its own texture.  Without looking I can differentiate between silk yarns, factory spun acrylic blends, and those precious yarns which I’ve spun from my own (long ago) sheep.  There is a distinct difference in sheep wools:  I still have a soft Shetland batt, and some Border Leicester wool which is lustrous and coarse—fine for my sun weathered skin, but frowned upon by many folks who can’t handle a bit of the scratch on their delicate bodies.

The first full blown realization of my abject need for tactile experience came to me over a couple of decades when I frequently attended workshops and conferences.  Many of these were focused on writing, and no matter how helpful and informative they were I would come home drained and stressed—wanting to scream but not knowing exactly why.  I may have been inspired and challenged, but I also felt kind of “ill”.  I was sick of words—and weary of the competition and drivenness commonly exhibited at conventions of writers!

Also in those years, I attended woollie gatherings—spinners’ conventions and knitters’ gatherings.  I came home from these occasions with an overflowing cup of contentment and well being!  The diverse textures of the subject matter were accompanied by the glorious scent of wool and high stimulation of COLOR—all set against a background of pleasant conversation.  To this day I feel healthy and strong in the wake of a spinners’ or knitters’ gathering—where all levels of “art” are welcome and respected, and participants are bonded in their shared love of a hands-on project.

Oddly enough, I can read a fine quality 600 or 700 page book (and often do) without that burnt out feeling that I get from a writers’ gathering.  Somehow, the aptly written word fulfills, challenges, soothes, and satisfies while building rather than depleting my soul.  So can words spoken by a teacher, preacher, or friend.  Quiet, one-on-one conversation with a friend or family member refreshes me.  And I can write volumes, with impunity. 

It is the cacophony of many competitive people talking that jars me to the core—along with the above mentioned drivenness that motivates (and sadly afflicts!) many writers in a group of their peers.  I’m settled and fulfilled whenever I have something in my hands! 

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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Star Shadows 

Tiny child, lost in sleep—

 inexorable sleep

winged on Hebrew lullaby . . . 

Did one small hand emerge in sleep 

from swaddling cloth,

a tiny starhand

 turning under stable-filtered light

 of greater star?

 And did that greater star

 spill shadows on a mother’s pondering?

 As she grasped the starhand, did she see

 a shadow path from Heaven

 to Calvary?

 ©Margaret Longenecker Been

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(Karen’s Garden in Waukesha Wisconsin — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑ 

Poems, by Margaret L. Been 

(Karen’s Rose Arbor — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom)

Feel the ecstacy of cloud, and rose’s beauty pain! 

Inhale the damp of ginger cool, the poignancy of rain.    

_______________________________________________________________________________

  

(Our Northern Retreat — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

June unravels lush across the land . . .

beauty stakes a summer tent and Love

has seized my hand.

_________________________________________________________________________________

(Margaret’s Condo Garden in Nashotah, Wisconsin — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Last Eon

Last eon old ladies kept gardens—

indolent sweet

lilies of the valley,

Virginia bluebells

ringing up June-wafting peonies,

wicker chaired haunts

for pausing with timeless cups

of tea, mint scented

lemonade and cookie gardens

enticing well-patched fry

from lace-curtained homes kept

by mothers.

Last eon old ladies kept gardens.

____________________________________________________________________________________

(Walden North — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Another Walden

(In honor of Henry David Thoreau, who wrote “I had three chairs in my house:  one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.”)

Eaves sagging,

spidered shingles veiling

squirrel-hewn beams.

A one-hinged door

sashays and scrapes

the spintered floor

where field mice scamper

with their seedy stores.

Three chairs are here

for you and me

and company,

and battered cups

for toasting joy

of mislaid schemes

among the shards

of dusty dreams.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

(Our Big Elk River — digitally enhanced photo by Margaret L. Been)  ↑

The Glory that is August . . .

. . . rejoicing in gleaming paint pots

of paisleys, morning glories tripping ankles,

riotous color circles cascading brilliant orange

from coppery berry-stained arms, ruby dollops

dripping from dangling gold, cheekbones

blushing mauve, stormy drapes valancing

languid summer eyes.

Behold her richly tangled gardens

nurtured randomly with whimsical

neglect, where cicadas thrum

and chipmunks scurry—where dynasties

of rabbits glean chamomile and mint

from shards of clay, and crackled

china plates line hidden treasure paths

unearthed by robins, hidden again

in masses of sage secluding

sweet woodruff’s piney green.

Behold her star-embroidered nights

teeming with song of wind and owl

and coyotes calling out the moon,

praising the Author of August beauty—

recalling yesterday, remembering

our long forgotten dreams.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

(Up-North Trail — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

While Summer Stays

I have set a bread to rise

and gone with morning in my eyes

to find a place, while summer stays

where goldenrod lights meadow ways . . .

where birchwood’s warm obscurity

retreats from time, and beckons me

to abdicate a few last days

so haunting sweet while summer stays.

I have set a bread to rise

and gone with morning in my eyes.

______________________________________________________________________________________

(Karen and Lee’s Home in Waukesha, Wisconsin — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑ 

(Karen’s Quiet Garden — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑

I Will Sweep My Rooms

I will sweep my rooms, and tend

my cloistered gardens, brew my tea,

and one who mocked my dreams

will never know the heart of me!

_______________________________________________________________________________________

(Joelly and Nathaniel Mining Wild Raspberries — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Gardens are lovely

when they look as though nature made them . . .

lovelier, when nature did!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

(The selected poems are reprinted from 3 collections of poetry by Margaret Longenecker Been:  WILDERNESS AND GARDENS—an American Lady’s Prospect, published in 1974 by John Westburg Associates, Fennimore, Wisconsin; MORNING IN MY EYES, published in 1997 by Sheepy Hollow Press, Eagle, Wisconsin; and A TIME UNDER HEAVEN, published in 2005 by Elk River Books, Phillips, Wisconsin.) 

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Although most of my childhood recollections are pleasant, today I am sharing one which is not—my memory of that frightening shadow which touched down each year in early August as I was growing up, and mysteriously lifted weeks later with the first frost.

Our oldest child was born in 1954.  A year later, Dr. Jonas Salk introduced the vaccine which would prevent devastating illness and save countless lives.  Until the vaccine was released in 1955, polio was considered to be America’s greatest fear, apart from atomic bomb.

As a mother of 6, grandmother of 13, and great-grandmother of (soon to be) 14 children, I am eternally grateful for God’s intervention through medical science—and for the researcher, Jonas Salk, who enabled us to raise our children in a polio-free environment!

———————————————————————————————-

Summer until . . . .

Spilling from school, we scattered over sidewalks

like marbles rolling from a tattered pouch

and June days unraveled to “Moonlight, Starlight,

have you seen the ghost tonight?”

July exploded, with night skies draping color trails,

afternoons melting like ice cream in sticky hands,

while we believed that summer was forever—

summer until . . . .

August came quietly.  Time awakened—

stretching, turning corners, whispering

ominous innuendoes of change.

And then September, unleashing terror

as the paralyzing hand moved among us

maiming, murdering, destroying illusions of summer–

summer until . . . .

Margaret Longenecker Been, ©2010

————————————————————————————————————-

P. S.  Although the paralyzing hand has been mercifully removed, reverberations go on.  As a child growing up in the 1940s, one of my friends recovered from a case of polio—and she was apparently healthy for decades.  But now in later life, this friend is stricken with PPS—post polio sydrome.  

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, “Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a condition that affects polio survivors years after recovery from an initial acute attack of the poliomyelitis virus.  PPS is mainly characterized by new weakening in muscles that were previously affected by the polio infection and in muscles that seemingly were unaffected.  Symptoms include slowly progressive muscle weakness and unaccustomed fatigue (both generalized and muscular)—and, at times, muscle atrophy is common . . . .  According to estimates by the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 440,000 polio survivors in the United States may be at risk for PPS.  Researchers . . . estimate that the condition affects 25 percent to 50 percent of these survivors, or possibly as many as 60 percent . . . .”

With love and prayers, I dedicate this entry to my dear friend with PPS.  May God fill her and surround her with His comfort, and with better days!  MLB

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