Archive for Poetry

A Vow for this Coming Day

While excitedly preparing my new journal last night – for the shiny new year, of course – I pasted in the very front, the words of my friend, inspirer, and provocateur, Jim Rigby.

Jim is the pastor at my folks’ church in Texas, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church of Austin. And, he is an exemplary human being. Or rather, he is a spiritual being having a human experience; and while doing so, he makes the world a better place by being in it.

Feel free to check him out for yourself. He has a blog, but is most prolific and active on his Facebook page.

But I digress.

Check out what Jim wrote. I think you’ll see why I pasted it into the front of my journal, and hope to read it every single day – at least this year. 😉

A VOW FOR THIS COMING DAY

I vow not to let anything that happens this day rob me of my inner peace.

I promise to treat every ignorant word as opportunity to teach, every unfortunate event as a chance to learn, and every happy moment as an opportunity to be grateful,

Without trying to possess it, control it, or make it permanent. I vow to live this day in my own skin, not wishing I were different, but, instead, striving to make my life a work of art.

I vow to spend this day as a good citizen of the whole, and to be an ambassador for the common good.

I will be grateful for this day of life, remembering that the Universe owes me nothing.

Should I break any part of my vow, I will give no place to remorse, or shame, but time and time again, I will joyfully return to my path.

And to that I say, “Amen.”

What’s Your Anthem?

What’s my Anthem? I need an Anthem???

Yes! In fact you may need more than one. An anthem is a song or speech or poem – or whatever it is that works for you – that you want played loudly (over the PA system, through your earphones, or just in your head) as you walk, practically petrified, through the daunting arenas of your life.

I have Arenas? You mean with lions and bulls???

Well, not exactly real lions and bulls, although there are certainly times in the arena when we feel like we’re about to be eaten alive. Sometimes simply showing up as who we really are and saying what we really think, can feel just that dangerous.

I know you’ve experienced this. Maybe your arena is a board room, a sales pitch, a stage, or even being present for a difficult conversation with someone you love. Perhaps you could’ve used an anthem in school when you faced that all-important test or, worse, the principal’s office. Yikes.

There is a way, though, to make stepping into your arena, with your anthems playing, less scary – even rewarding.

It’s the Daring Way™.

Watch for more to come about that. Today I’m here to tell you about  anthems.

The other day I was writing to the members of a Daring Way™ group I’m running. I was elaborating on an assignment, reminding them to come to this week’s session with the names of their anthems.

Originally, the exercise was for them to pick a song by which they feel uplifted, encouraged, and remind them of how brave and magnifecent they are, and what authentic gifts they bring. But since music doesn’t affect everyone the way it does me (or Brené Brown who chose to include this exercise in her Daring Way™ program), I extended the assignment to include anything that empowers them to be themselves out loud.

What about a playlist?

Making a list of examples to send them turned out to be so fun for me, that I didn’t want to stop! And I didn’t want to keep that list all to myself and them either. So, you’re in luck! I’m posting it here for you.

I do have one caveat (and confession): This list is by no means complete. Which is why I didn’t want to stop when I was making the list of examples. There are so many more great candidates! Maybe I’ll get to those in a later post (or posts), but for now, you’ll hane to just enjoy these.

Music:

Poems by:

  • Billy Collins
  • David Whyte
  • Derek Walcott
  • Emily Dickenson
  • Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (Rumi)
  • John O’Donohue
  • Lucille Clifton
  • Mary Oliver
  • Maya Angelou
  • Naomi Shihab Nye
  • Oriah Mountain Dreamer
  • Pablo Neruda
  • Richard Gilbert
  • Shamseddin Mohammad (Hafiz or Hafez)
  • Shel Silverstein

Books by:

  • Alice Walker
  • Anne Lamott
  • Bill Wilson
  • Brené Brown
  • Charlotte Kasl
  • Christiane Northrup
  • Dale Carnegie
  • Daniel Gilbert
  • David Schwartz
  • Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Julia Cameron
  • Hermann Hesse
  • Laura Overstreet Biering! 🙂
  • Louise Hay
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Nancy Blair
  • Napoleon Hill
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Pema Chödrön
  • Randy Pausch
  • Rick Tamlyn
  • SARK
  • Sonia Choquette
  • Sue Monk Kidd
  • Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Viktor Frankl, or maybe even

Quotes from:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Albert Einstein
  • Anne Frank
  • Ben Franklin
  • Betty Friedan
  • Beverly Sills
  • Billy Jean King
  • Eleanor, Franklin, or Theodore Roosevelt
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
  • Erica Jong
  • Gloria Steinem
  • Helen Keller
  • Henry Ford
  • Indira or Mahatma Gandhi
  • Jimmy Carter
  • John or Robert Kennedy
  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  • Malala Yousafza
  • Martha Graham
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Mother Teresa
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Ovid
  • Richard Branson
  • Rosa Parks
  • Steve Jobs
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Vince Lombardi
  • Walt Disney
  • Warren Buffett
  • William James

Also… there are some inspiring Academy Awards Acceptance Speeches (see my March 13th blog post to get you started with these), and there are some awesome TED talks (get the top 1o here) and TEDx talks (get the top 10 here)…

OK. Since I have other things to do today, and I’m sure you do, too, I’ll stop here.

Now it’s your turn.

Pleeeeeease, even if it’s only one a day, take these like vitamins – try them out, take them in, and decide which ones make you feel the best. Then make your own list. You can start by “cheating off of my paper.” Then, before you know it, you’ll be choosing anthems seemingly written for you.

And please check back in with me here so I can “cheat off of your paper, too.” I hope you have fun perusing my anthems and then picking yours. Why?

Because it’s time to march confidently into your arenas, head held high ( even if you’re quaking in your boot), with your anthems turned up to 11!

 

PS I apologize for not providing you links to every single item above, but that would have surely gotten me in trouble with the Google police. And “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Bright Lights and Barred Owls, an Elegy

Today, on September 11th of all days, I present a poem for you. It is in loving memory of my client turned friend, Tayyibah Taylor. She was a brave and beloved ambassador of – and dedicated activist for – world peace.

“A Bright Light, A Barred Owl: An Elegy”

Our bright light has moved on.Tayyibah Taylor in hot pink
And we have moved
From Shock and Disbelief
To broken-heartedness
For ourselves, for all – and at the
Loss of her song, and her being
That mellifluously brought a potent, loving message.

Our bright light has moved on.
Clothed in vibrant wisdom, and with
Exquisite engagement,
Her worldwide heart and
Her other worldly delight,
No longer embrace us –
Not in this realm.

Tayyibah Taylor w/sparkler

Sparkling Tayyibah and her Sparkler

Our bright light has moved on.
We know not to where –
Perhaps Allah as she believed.
We do know
As she lost her battle,
We lost a champion and one
Of the highest magnitude.

Our bright light has moved on.
And she visited me, on the way to her
Soul’s next evolution, by embodying a barred owl.
Cloaked in the song of “Who cooks for you?” she spoke
As in unison with Quan Yin. “I hear your cry.
Compassion and Mercy to all,
Including you.”

Our bright light has moved on
Though her message lingers – an invitation
To be a woman with wings, migrating as necessary,
Leading us all heartlong with her love lantern
So that we see the divine, invisible and
See beyond the human, visible
In the faces of our families and our enemies.

Tayyibah Taylor

Tayyibah Taylor, in the Colors of our Planet

Our bright light has moved on.
She now beckons us to pick up our purposes,
Travel across borders created by mankind,
And through veils created by a power
Greater than we, and surrender,
Finally, to building and then crossing countless
Bridges to peace.

II.
For your life, Sister Tayyibah Taylor, bright and
Guiding light, we give thanks.
And for the gifts you brought us,
The gift that you were,
We will know you, in the call of the barred owl,
The eyes of the gentle doe, and the magnificence of the flamingo,
If we will but listen, if we will but see.

III.
Our bright light has moved on
And so must we –
Not soon, but eventually –
When we are ready.
We must get ready.
But first, we must grieve.
Our bright light has moved on.

Laura Overstreet Biering, Clarkston, GA
©2014 All rights reserved

PS To learn more about Tayyibah and her legacy, click on her name in the opening paragraph, and/or visit these links:

PPS To learn more about the Barred Owl and the “medicine” it is believed to bring, visit one of these links:

PPPS  And finally, just to be clear… As you know, the majority of photographs on this blog are ones I’ve taken. The ones included in this post, however, are not. If and when I find out whose they are, I will certainly post that here.

Jigsaw, a poem and one perspective…

Jigsaw, a poem and one perspective on my Global Puzzle Theory

I have believed
For a very long time
That I am one piece
Of a very large puzzle

Uniquely made
For my particular spot
In this world
My only real job

To fill it
Today
Surrounded by the lushness
Of deep greens and spring greens

The wonder of wildlife
And a gracious gift
I struggle to steward
And deserve

I see myself analogous
To the world
My insides made up
Of many individual contributors

I am a jigsaw puzzle
Of the most difficult degree
Many shades and shadows
Few delineating lines

I see the picture on the cover of the box
But can’t bring it into focus
What is it
What am I

Supposed to be
When all put together
Before I am undone
Apart again

Put away
Again
Perhaps
For the last time

Where are my edges
Do I have all the pieces
Or have some fallen
On the busily-patterned rug

That is a metaphor
For my mind
Or has a trick
Been played

By somehow
Adding extra pieces
Superfluous pieces
That must be discovered

Then disregarded
For me to see
Only the essential
Thousands of pieces of

Me

Outside as the greens
Are courted by the breeze
There is a wonder
And an uncertainty

Fitting a world dynamic and alive
Even on the darkest of nights
Regardless of how long or short
The lives here live

Inside where the air is conditioned
The art is hung just so
The silver shines
And the crystal is clear and

Intertwined with the centuries of life
Gone before me here
And the dust and
Dog hair of the day

It’s too dark now (or is it)
To put together this puzzle
I feel my way is futile
Will never get me there

Wherever there is
What’s next
Now
I know

Not

 

© 2014 Laura Overstreet Biering, Brinson’s Race

Will I Do, a poem

Will I Do

I bow to the world
In awe of its beauty
Complexity

From the chair where I sit.
I listen, listen,
Hear, hear

Sounds, audible and
Messages, inaudible.
Now what

Will I do

With what
I have
Heard?

Rise and live it
Or remain
In this chair?

What will I do?
What?
Regardless

Of what
I do do,
Will I do?
©2014 Laura Overstreet Biering, Clarkston, GA

For the Buzzards, a poem

For the Buzzards

Doing his job by sight and smell
Inspecting making the place safe
For his humans the big dog
Killed a baby bunny.

With just a squeak
Instant death
The tiny skull crushed
To half the original size.

My friend
Also known as
The bridge
Assisted the holy innocent

In making the journey across
Blessing it wishing it
Safe travels
To the other side

And thanking it
For the powerful medicine
It bestowed upon us
Upon its death —

Creativity
Intuition
Paradox
Fear.

We searched for a suitable spot
Where the transition could conclude
Without any further aid from us and found
The little old town’s

Well-used cemetery
Complete with three tall crosses
One taller than the other two
Of course.

We chose the corner
Farthest from them all
Closest to the road
The one with the lilies.

We laid the baby’s body down
To decay and be taken away
By the buzzards
Doing us all a favor.

Circle of life
You piss me off sometimes
With the squirrels in the road
Just trying to get across

The deer in the woods
Just trying to feed their young
And the people
Gifts

To all who knew them
Snatched
Away with
Or without warning.

©2014 Laura Overstreet Biering, Brinson’s Race, GA

The Secret Language of Birds?

We have a barred owl. Every night, as we settle in for sleep, it greets us with the unmistakable call, “Who cooks for you?” You can hear and see it here. It’s quite delightful to experience. I’m even smiling as I write this. I’m so grateful it’s chosen to light for awhile in our wooded yard and serenade us most evenings.

Lots of birds visit our yard, actually. During one of the warmer afternoons last week, I went outside to get some Vitamin D, and was overwhelmed by the decibel level of their multiple conversations. So much was being said!

This got me thinking: “What are they really saying?” So I did some research, and found that they really do have a lot to say! Check out all of the possibilities here.

It also lead me to write a little poem. It’s a series of haikus, and I hope you enjoy it.

You Talkin’ To Me?

The featherweights fly
High in the intricate lace
Of the wintertime.

They chase and land and
Sometimes they peck, until they
Chase and land again.

What is their message
For those of us who are bound
To earth for life and

Death that surely comes?
What have they to say about
How we spend our time,

Mostly chasing and
Sometimes pecking but hardly
Landing? Rest, maybe?

 

©2014 Laura Overstreet Biering

Is it Winter in Your Heart?

Regardless of what or how we celebrate this time of year, there is an unspoken expectation to be joyful, grateful, giving, and loving.  And for some of us this is simply not how we feel, not what we are experiencing.  Whether it’s due to the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a connection to the spark within us, the holiday cheer can be a painful reminder, if not downright heartbreaking.

To put it more beautifully, I’d like to share with you a poem, written by my dear friend, Janie Cook, on her blog, Living with the Loss of a Child.

 

in the shadow of blinking Christmas lights

of holiday parties and celebrations

surrounded by gift shoppers

and promises of peace, hope and joy

it is winter in my heart

i am the cold, cloudy days

the damp leafless trees

the stark stillness of the night sky

filled with longing

so . . . Holy One who knows the seasons of our hearts

be the sunrise that warms

be the breeze that freshens

be the light that illuminates

and help me give birth to The Love that is ever deeper and more sustaining

(To read Janie’s post in its entirety, click here.

Regardless of what it is you are feeling during this holiday season, please consider this note a kind of permission slip to feel whatever that is – whether it’s joy, sadness, grief, gratitude, indifference, anger, etc.  You may even want to share with someone close what is true for you so that you don’t feel so alone in your seemingly unique situation.

Remember, we can’t put our feelings on a timer, and only feel them when they are welcome.  We must welcome them when they are present so that they don’t overtake and cripple us for even longer a time…

May you find some peace with your feelings this holiday season, and know that I’ll be joining you in doing my best to honor my feelings.  May we all find peace, all over the whole wide world.  Amen.

Love,
Laura

PS  This post is directly lifted from my December, 2012 newsletter, True Voices Express.  To make sure you don’t miss another offering like this, please go to the the top right of this page, and sign up to receive future issues.  I’d love to be in contact with you more often – but not too often, I promise.  Thanks!

 

Poetry and the Oympics: Celebration

Due to attending a funeral out of town, I’ve spent the last few days away from home, my computer, and a television.  Hence, I’ve missed the last few days of the Olympics and posting here on this blog.

I am aware, however, that tonight is the closing ceremony, and I hope to make it home in time to see it.  To close this series, and in honor of the Olympic athletes, their victories and their disappointments, their dedication and their willingness, I am posting a poem I wrote last year.  It was in honor of the women in the first graduating class of my year-long Be You Out Loud program.

I hope you enjoy it.

Celebration
 For my BYOL 0610 “Lovelies”

It’s the end of a time here;
It’s the beginning of another.
The overlap of now and

Next is ephemeral and
Palpable. How can that be? Our minds say.
We just do. Our souls answer. It just is.

We celebrate that which brought us here,
That which we thought we knew but
Which reveals more to us as we open to see the more of it.

We celebrate that which we’ve experienced here
That which we expected and didn’t, that which we wanted and didn’t
Get, that which revealed us to us as we opened to us.

We called upon the centers of ourselves
To birth more of what came to be born.
We wonder what will come

Now at this closing,
Now that we are open
Both dying and being born in this moment.

We celebrate the multitude of births of essence
That deaths of form allow. We birth the new, the ancient
The us we are and will be.

Because we opened to worlds within and outside,
We opened our eyes our minds and our hearts,
To every single thing possible …

We go forth into the dark
Of going forth into the light
We are going, we are growing

We are grateful
We are courageous
Above all

We celebrate.
Above all, we celebrate
That we are willing.

Laura Overstreet Biering, copyright, May, 2011

Poetry and the Olympics: History, Then and Now

Back at the beginning of this series, I talked about the history of the relationship between the arts and the Olympics.  In fact, it was learning about this that inspired me to write the series in the first place.  And recently, I was forwarded a great link by a loyal reader to even more details about the period during the modern Olympics when the arts were included in the competition.  It details several winners of medals in the Arts portion of the games, including one man, Alfred Hajos, who also won two medals for Hungary in swimming, and the only woman to ever win a gold medal in Olympic Arts.  She was a Finnish poet, and her name was Aale Tynni.

Again, the link for learning more and seeing examples of the winning work is here.  Feel free to go there now and enjoy!

PS  Wasn’t that a great USA v USA match in Beach Volleyball between Misty May-Treanor /Kerri Walsh and Jen Kessy /April Ross?  Talk about making history!