Archive for poetry

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.

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.

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.

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.

 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!

Poetry and the Olympics: Amazing Athletes and Important You

Aren’t the Olympians amazing?  I find myself in awe of their abilities, inspired by their dedication, and exhilarated by their willingness to do whatever it takes to go as far as they possibly can in their chosen sports.  Occasionally, though, a little voice creeps in and begins to compare (and this is one sport in which no one ever wins).  I start to think things like “I’ll never be that good at anything” and/or “If only I had…”

Sound familiar?  I hope not, for your sake, but even if it does, I am here to remind you that, while you may never be an Olympic athlete, you are human, and you are and always will be the only you.  And that’s something at which you’ll always excel!

And if you need even more on the subject, take a look at today’s poem, written by my talented friend Ann Betz, and let its beauty and truth wash over you.  Then remember that you have a special place in the global puzzle – yours!

if you only knew

how delicate
and tender
you are

if you could only see
the softness
and susceptibility
of your own heart
the way it blooms
and contracts
a sea anemone
of hope and fear
floating bravely
through your life

and yes I know
that you move mountains
command armies
and face the foe

what of it?

to be human is to carry
a precarious blossom
that no barrier
or shell can ever
truly contain
the strong among us know
you might as well
give up
hold out your hand
and offer it
and without hesitation
to this world

~July 2012, copyright, Ann Betz

Poetry and the Olympics: Worthwhile

I hope you’re enjoying the Olympics, seeing as much as of the games as you want, and still getting enough sleep… Before I head off to bed myself, I thought I’d post a little reminder to all of us, myself included, to get up off the couch every now and then and get outside…


Moving from the cool conditioning
To the hot steam of summer
Can be a stultifying affront
And can stop one still,

Was I coming out here?” and
“Is it really
“Of course
it is,” another
Silent voice announces.

“See the lushness
Of the cotton,
Which upon inspection
Is dappled
With pinks and whites,
Buds and blossoms?”

It is those little things,
Though not so little,
Those unexpected details
That make a trip
From the inside-ease
To the outside-heaviness

… And
To the
Of life …


Laura Overstreet Biering, ©2009

Poetry and the Olympics: A Bonus from Carol Ann Duffy

Want to read some poems that have something directly to do with the Olympics?  Well, Britain’s Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy thought you might, and has posted several here at this link.  Enjoy today’s bonus – thanks, Ms Duffy!

Again, here’s the link:


Poetry and the Olympics: Olga, Gabby, Little and Grown Up Me

I am writing this post with tears in my eyes, having just watched an amazing special on Olga Korbut.  Wow, what a difference she made on the sport of Gymnastics, in the hearts of those who watched her, and, as they pointed out, in the Soviet – U.S. relations.  The story about her moment with Richard Nixon alone is priceless!  I am thinking about our current darling, Gabby Douglas, and how the two of them are so much alike, with their enthusiastic spirits!

And now, for today’s poem, is one I wrote about me – another then and now story, of sorts..

Wanting for Myself and Others 

I grew up wanting to be somebody
Else.  Like many little girls, I
Put on skits,
Sang with records, was
Sensitive and dramatic.

I ended up on stage
For money, for love,
For friends, for myself.
Although who was that?
Who was I?

I knew whose voices I admired
So I used theirs, or some
Facsimile therof.
I performed so well
I became unwell.

Now the long road
To recovery discovery
Continues and I
Listen for my voice,
Hoping for

Others to
Use it to
Find their
Own True

Poetry and the Olympics: Remembering Papa II

I’ll have to leave the coverage of the Olympics to attend a birthday party tonight. Thanks to the DVR, we get to do it all.

Writing about Papa earlier, and thinking about birthday parties, I was reminded of another poem I wrote for and about him.  So here it is…


February, new doc said “tests.”
March, we knew for sure.
April, it began to sink in.

May was busy with party preparations.
June was his 75th. The invitation read
(And I kid you not), “…if he lasts that long.”

He insisted, and it was his party.
It was a grand one, but not too grand:
Bombay Sapphire Gin, but only on the first round.

Some came because they knew the news.
Some didn’t come for the same reason.
Some didn’t know until they came and saw him bald.

He surprised us.
Made up with his sister,
Had no nausea. “Blessings.”

Then came radiation
Burns. Aspirated lungs,
Not a blessing.

So excruciating, in fact, that
He reported
The technician.

July, more treatments.
August, they were supposed to be over.
September, they weren’t.

October, his stubborn guest had
Settled in, and he
Settled into bed.

For a while, he enjoyed his life
Passing before him, a parade of students, friends, lovers,
Some of them one in the same.

And cousins,
White and black, a fact
Of which he was particularly proud.

He dictated letters to me and
I was surprised. To the recipients he said
“Forgive me?” and “I’m sorry.”

He even wrote my mother,
Admitting she’d been right
All along.

He began losing track and the
Disorientation disturbed him.

December came,
As did my brother,
And then he left us for real.

January, “The coldest day on record,”
We left ashes at the Brinson family
Cemetery, and at the several-times-transplanted

Fig tree. The one
They said wouldn’t live.
Yet still it does.

February and March were filled with
Sorting out – books, letters and why
He did what he did and didn’t do.

April, it began
To sink in, again.
For real.

Laura Overstreet Biering, Copyright, 020610

Poetry and the Olympics: Remembering Papa

I missed writing yesterday – it just slipped my mind – does that ever happen to you?

So today, there’ll be two posts!  The first of which is in memory of my father.  Papa was never an athlete.  He was, nevertheless, a big fan.  And he loved the Olympics.  He was especially proud of the athletes from Auburn University where he taught, and most especially proud of those who had been his students, including Rowdy Gaines.  So naturally, I am remembering Papa, his last months, in particular…

I Remain

Six years since we heard the word,
Over five since you’ve been gone.
It took you fast,
It took you slow-
Ly. There was no pain
And then only
I remain

For the unpronouncably-named medications,
The couch in your bedroom
On three legs and a brick,
The place I supposedly slept,
And from which I listened to each gurgling breath,
Wondering, worrying, hoping, feeling
Guilty as hell.
I remain

That there were cousins,
Some of them not-even-really
Cousins, bringing bread pudding,
Sharing in your care,
Nursing you in ways I could not, would not.
Thankful that you’d splurged
On the electronically-bending bed,
Purchased for pleasure, not knowing at the time
The need around the bend.
I remain
Not thankful

At all
For hospice
Not helpful
At all
In the end.

Damn them.


Laura Overstreet Biering, Copyright March, 2011


Poetry and the Olympics: Michael Phelps and Me

As of now, Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time.  Wow – that is so exciting!  And, as much of a star as he is, he’s also been known to make mistake or two. I, too, have been know to make a mistake now and again.  🙂  And I’d like to apologize for at least one of them here.  My apologies to Jane Yolen, Mary Oliver, Jack Gilbert, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Tony Hoagland. In my enthusiasm for your amazing work, I posted your poems without asking for your permission or for the permission of your estates.  I hope you can forgive me.  Please know that l’ll be removing your poems from my previous posts, and replacing them with links…  And, starting right now, I’ll be posting only links or original poems, such as the one I posted yesterday by my friend Ken Carlson, and the one I am posting right now, by me!

The Call to Connect

There is a need I have
To connect
From waaaay down deep inside me
To waaaay down deep inside you.

You can take that to mean something
Sexual, and sometimes it does,
But mostly it doesn’t.
Mostly, it means

I have a need to see you, know you, feel you and
To be seen, known, felt by you.
And then there comes the time when I am done
Connecting with you.

This is when the call comes
To connect with me
Only. Sometimes
I answer.

Laura Overstreet Biering (Copyright 2008)