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Archive for the ‘Poetry by Margaret Longenecker Been’ Category

THE MAPLE

A single maple golden stood

Long after frost had laid

A deadly hand upon the woods

Disrobed by icy rain.

Her loneliness was bright and bold

In skeletons of trees

That recently flashed red and gold

And chattered in the breeze.

Her joy was not in being a tree

Of abundant tone,

But in the fact of being free

And standing all alone. 

Had the other trees around

Been leafed, she’d doubtlessly

Have cast her garments to the ground

For all the woods to see!

©Margaret Longenecker Been

Note:  “The Maple” was published in North American Mentor magazine, and in a collection of poems—WILDERNESS AND GARDENS, An American Lady’s Prospect, by Margaret Longenecker Been—published by Westburg & Associates, Fennimore, Wisconsin,

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These are the darkling days

when maples shed their burdens,

torn and sodden, to the earth . . .

and tawny columned corn

breaks beneath the reaper’s blade. 

Demise of daylight

drives us inward to our dens,

burrows we’ve designed,

hollows carved in ancient oak,

cabins hewn from fallen pine. 

These are the darkling days.

A fading west wind yields

to sabre rattling from the north,

yet while the keenings sound . . .

a new life pulsates underground. 

© 2009 Margaret Longenecker Been

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My friend, Ellen Grace Olinger, has inspired me greatly and I sense a deluge of haiku (and related forms) rushing from my soul!  Ellen is a master at the Japanese poetic forms.  She has the rare gift of saying volumes in a few succinct words. 

It’s exciting to be seized by a fresh creative passion!  You can check out some fruit on my currently updated Ekphrasis page on this blogsite. 

And please visit Ellen’s two sites—listed in my blogroll as “Beautiful Poems and Thoughts by Ellen Olinger” and “Poetry Inspired by the Psalms and Nature”.  You’ll be glad you did!  🙂

Thank you Ellen!

MLB

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There is a hunger meat cannot abate,

nor human company assuage.

Food grows tasteless, conversation fails

to feed this cave.

Only hands, committed hands

can feed the hunger

of our broken pact with earth . . .

hands that spin and weave

and love the feel of rough wood,

crumbling sod,

hands that mirror ways

of He Who formed us out of clay.

© Margaret Longenecker Been

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How to Long for Heaven?

How to long for Heaven

When Earth is moist with Spring

And in the swamp

The peepers’ anthems ring?

What Rapture

Without that rapture of returning geese,

And season on season

Without surcease?

My Lord is here,

Visible in Sun and rain,

Audible in growing wind

Across the plain.

Margaret Longenecker Been, ©1973

POET’S NOTE:  I do long for Heaven, every time I read a newspaper or watch the news on TV—or hear of human suffering around the world.  Many times a week I pray, “Thy Kingdom come” and “Come, Lord Jesus”.

Yet God is His creative mercy and grace gives us glimpses of Heaven on a daily basis.  All we need to do is look at the sky, and we are lifted to another, richer dimension.  And when winter suddenly turns to spring, the message of Resurrection is overwhelmingly clear!  Our Lord is here!  His visible return is simply  a matter of time.  MLB

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 “I sometimes wonder, after all,
Amid this tangled web of fate,
If what is great may not be small,
And what is small may not be great.
So wondering I go my way,
Yet in my heart contentment sings . . .
O may I ever see, I pray,
God’s grace and love in Little Things.”

From “The Joy of Little Things”, by Robert Service

__________________________________________________

“I come in the little things, saith the Lord, 

Amidst the delicate and bladed wheat

That springs triumphant in the furrowed sod . . .

I come in the little things, saith the Lord:

Yea! on the glancing wings 

Of eager birds, the softly pattering feet

Of furred and gentle beasts, I come to meet . . . .”

From “I Come in the Little Things, Saith the Lord”, by Evelyn Underhill

____________________________________________________________

I will never be able to say enough, write enough, or thank God adequately for the Little Things.  I cannot begin to list them, because I haven’t enough years on earth, or hours in a day.  There isn’t enough paper on this planet to contain my list or record my appreciation for the Little Things.  But here are just a few:

The February sun streams in my window, flooding my keyboard.  Our corgi, Dylan, sleeps and snores on the floor beside me.  My husband watches a favorite sport and periodically makes a suggestion or voices a strong complaint, to the players on the screen. 

Snow falls.  Snow melts.  Today I heard the cardinal’s first “Cheer Cheer Cheer” of the season; his territorial assertiveness has resumed for another year.  We had breakfast at a local café which is alway packed at mealtimes—resounding with the happy clatter of dishes and ongoing congenial conversation. 

Our friendly 93 year old neighbor, Mike, drives off in his sporty new car, with his radio blaring Country Western tunes.  Mike is chomping at the bit for the next golf season to begin.  Another neighbor walks past our windows with a dog, and Dylan rumbles his “deep in the throat” message—broadcasting that he does not like other dogs.

Our granddaughter-in-law, Kelly, phones from San Diego and excitedly tells us about the sunshine—and the view of the ocean from their patio.  She tells us they are all happy—and that their sweet two year old, Cole, has a little friend to play with. 

I loiter in the produce department of our supermarket and marvel at the gorgeous shades of purple/blue in the eggplants.  I resolve to GOOGLE “Eggplant Recipes”, in order to justify buying one the next time I shop.  But I’ll probably sketch and paint the eggplant before cooking it.

Our Christmas cactus never bloomed at Christmas, but now it is sprouting pink buds—having saved its glory for the Lenten season.  As I water the plants, they say “Thank you” by exuding the heady fragrance of damp earth.

Now we have a lingering twilight.  I boil water and steep our tea until just short of battery acid strength.  Joe and I drink our tea while gazing out the living room window at the ambience of our patio garden in winter—and dreaming of the green explosion to come.

Tomorrow, in church, I’ll sit in our four generation family row—praising God that I can be the old great-grandma, enjoying beautiful younger people of all ages!  Some will visit in the afternoon, for Scrabble, reminiscing, playing in the doll house, or simply savoring the moment.

People to love.  Beauty to behold.  Endless delights to experience with the five senses.  Creative pastimes to enjoy.  We lack nothing.  We are complete.  We are abundantly blessed by The Little Things!

Contentment

It comes from viewing, with a certain mind,

a window full of plants in Winter

and finding rabbit tracks in snow,

from going to sleep while blizzard shrieks

and waking to a house that’s drifted shut.

It comes again in Spring when Earth is waiting

and the air has not quite turned to May,

in Summer at a pine-edged lake

where Time halts and the moment is enough. 

It comes in Autumn–with a sadness–

as fields are tanned and cider flows

and children’s noses chill at dusk,

and Earth spreads makeup on Her face

to hide Her age.

© Margaret Longenecker Been

 

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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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Epilogue of a County

Go gently, Autumn,

spilling sunlight out across stone walls,

soothing ancient land

where glaciers scooped our hollows,

piled moraines, and thawed

a legacy of lakes. 

Gently.

Life has been the thrust

of this dark soil,

of oak and hickory woods,

abundant springs,

and prairie interludes

where cornfields call

to Angus clustered hills. 

Yesterday

the forest echoed Cymric rhyme

(and still of restless year-end nights

a melody is heard—

wind singing old Welsh tunes

in dying oak). 

Go gently Autumn,

remembering those quiet country ways,

Savoring the texture of these days.

©Margaret Longenecker Been

 

1st Place winner in the 1981 BO CARTER CONTEST, Epilogue of a County was published in MORNING IN MY EYES, a collection of poems by MLB—SHEEPY HOLLOW PRESS, Eagle, Wisconsin. 

That’s “SHEEPY” HOLLOW, not “SLEEPY”.   The publisher (Yours Truly) was a sheep raiser in those days.

I think I’ve posted this poem in past autumns.  That’s okay.  It fits today. 🙂

  

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Recently I read an article in a home decor magazine, which brought my blood to that proverbial boil.  The author of the article, an “interior decorator” wrote:  “I can always tell when I enter a home which has not been decorated by a professional . . . .”  Then she went on and on, describing everything that was “wrong” with non-professional, do-it-yourself home decor.

(To that I might retort, “I can (not always but usually) tell when I enter a home which has been decorated by a professional—no verve, no panache, no individuality, no artful clutter, no plethora of memories, no evidence of personal penchants.  No soul, no spirit, no stacks of books on the floor and under tables, no dog hair*, no cats’ furballs, no funky collectibles, NO ANYTHING, simply a very tasteful and abysmally vacuous cookie cutter look!”)

The author of the above mentioned article cited a list of her self imposed “rules” which actually sent me into paroxyms of giggles, despite my boiling blood.  The funniest rule was:  All pictures must be at eye level.”

Isn’t that a hoot?!  Anyone with half a brain will question, “Whose eyes?”  The eye level “rule” is as silly as mandating that all humans must be the same height—or that they all must be 130 pounds of brown eyed brunette for women, and 185 pounds with shaved heads for men.  (Obviously children don’t even begin to factor in this “professional decorator’s” dictum.)

Here are some of my happy violations of the eye level rule:

Ooops!  ↑  My great-grandfather, Benjamin Luckey, is nearly touching our ceiling.  What is he doing up there?  Not many eyes in our family can level with him! 

But at least our 6′ 3″ tall grandson, Adam, can read his Irish ancestor’s face.  (Please note the aesthetic cobweb to the right of Benjamin Luckey.  The cobweb may not be “decoratively correct” either—but hey, I LOVE spiders.  No arachnophobia here.)

Another delightfully happy and gorgeous faux pas!  ↑

Now this funky collage ↑ goes to the other creative extreme; it’s almost on the floor.  Never mind.  Our 2 year old great-granddaughter, Lyla and our 19 month old great-grandsons, Cole and Lucas, can enjoy art at their level. 

Plus we have a 3 month old baby, Ella, in our family—and 2 more little boys about to be born.  They’ll be cruising our digs on their knees, and then on their feet, in no time at all.  Why do “interior decorators” have to forget about the little people?

Still one more hilariously stupid “decorating” rule is:  Limit groupings to 3 (or at the most 5) items.  Ha-ha!  Get a load of this!  ↓

Tea anyone?  We can celebrate the only decorating rule worth mentioning, namely:  THERE ARE NO RULES!

*And speaking of tea reminds me that the above diatribe does not apply to many British home decorators or home decor publications.  

America’s history of taxation without representation (and the Boston Tea Party!) notwithstanding, I applaud the English for their concept of home as evidenced in their magazines and books.  Tattered upholstery, chipped and crazed china, hairy dogs on crumpled beds, shelves and hutches crammed with diverse funky collectibles, muddy Wellies strewn around muddy back halls, and many other marks of beauty and ambience abound in British home decor periodicals. 

But don’t despair, all of you fellow Americans who love to collect and display junk and antiques.  We have a counter culture, in defiance of the boring “Everyone Look Alike and Get Rid of Clutter” crowd. 

We have a powerful, well-known advocate—that gracious Manhattan maven beautifully skilled in the arts of collecting and displaying junk, Mary Randolph Carter.   

Mary Randolph Carter has a brand new book, just released in October of 2010: 

Need I say more?  My copy is en route from Barnes & Noble, as I type.  What a treat!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

P. S. Here is a motivational bit of verse which I wrote for a fellow junker a few years back.  I posted this before, and think it’s worth repeating in view of new readers and the glorious rummage season just ahead!  🙂

To a Fellow Forager
 
For countless days of questing,
tracking county roads and off-beat trails,
seeking “gold” in worn enameled pots,
dented copper bowls and rusted pails . . .
For afternoons of sheer delight
in treasure flaked and faded over time . . .
clouded bottles, china chipped and crazed,
to cherish for a quarter or a dime . . .
For serendipity of junk acquired,
and troves of memories the years unfold,
I lift my coffee mug of battered tin
and toast the ecstasy of all things old!
Margaret Longenecker Been, ©2007

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