The Slim Blade

I’ve been writing meditative poetry for years. In these poems I try to convey a sense of spiritual struggle all seekers share. Here’s the most recent product of this quest:

Photo Credit Majeztic Arabians

Along the slim blade that divides
time from timelessness,
a newborn foal rises, cross-
legged, collapses and rises again
to fall again and again until, un-
stopped by fear or thought
of failure, he pulls himself aright
by sheer belief in uprightness:

not transcendence, not some heady
levitation over wracking waters, but
stillness and movement congeal,
transfigured light vibrant as
anchored sprouts of
orange maple leaves.

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Poets for Justice

Chinese depiction of Jesus and the rich man (M...

Christ with the Chinese - in the public domain, courtesy of Wikipedia

Poetry–like music, like theater, like many arts and community activities–brings people together. And when people get together, as the world screen has displayed prominently in the past year, stuff happens–good stuff. Empowerment. Liberation. Education. Social justice.

Political rallying is not the only kind of populist empowerment. Poets do it too. And the powers-that-be are threatened.

As an adult educator, I warn students that some of the sacred cows of their childhood are about to be put to pasture. Education is subversive. So is the message of Jesus (you know, the Jesus that tossed the money-grubbers out of the temple; that showed up the Romans by feeding the hungry that the powerful would rather conscript or enslave; that said, and showed, that love is a verb.) So poetry, too, is subversive.

Across the world, poets are still being persecuted, as truth-tellers always are. In China, Zhu Yufu has been imprisoned for subversion for responding to the populist movements with a poem that inspired followers to initiate a “Jasmine Revolution.”

Some exciting developments here in the States render clear and apparent the links, the possibilities, between poetry and justice. Split This Rock! in Washington, D.C. is a great example. There, March 22-25, poets will gather for “four days of poetry, community building, and creative transformation.” The lineup there includes such literary luminaries as Alice Walker, Jose Padua, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sonia Sanchez, and others.

Here’s to poetry. To subversion. To justice. To love as a verb. And to those who are willing to risk their freedom for the sake of truth, love, justice–and poetry.

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Top Ten New Year’s Tips for Poets

English: Mare and foal This fine pair were gra...

Image via Wikipedia

(also known as Tune Up Your Engine and Buckle Your Belt: What Your Auto Mechanic-Turned-Horse Trainer Will Never Tell You)

10.  Maintaining your engine requires no wrench,
no grease, no change of oil,
no gasket, no brake. Even
the muscular mechanic is a a distraction.
9.   Your spark plugs are permanent
and guaranteed to spark
given proper conditions for sparking.
8.   The brakes will never fail
to halt momentum when engaged.
7.    Now, don’t get too excited.
No one ever said it’s easy to run an aging engine.
6.   Really, it’s more like a pregnant mare
than a Grand Prix-winning machine,
so let’s swap metaphors right here.
5.    The poor old girl must be filled daily,
hourly if the trail gets steep.
4.    The whole girl must be rested,
groomed, and even praised,
committed to work and diligent at it.
3.    As caretaker, you must exercise her.
2.    Teach her to canter, turn, and bow.
1.    These acts must not be tricks alone
but performed as arts
so that the mare insists upon them
and will rouse you from sleep if need be
so someone will watch her in her trouble
and her joy, let her stop and catch her breath,
and nudge the nascent hooves from her womb . . . .

Happy New Year!

Peace and poems,
Kathleen McCoy

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A Simple Path

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997)...

Mother Teresa of Calcutta--Share Alike 2.0 Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday felt like a “natural high”–just a handful of peacemakers held  vigil together for the International Day of Peace, holding candles and banners, displaying hundreds of colorful Pinwheels for Peace made and decorated with wishes, prayers, and poems for peace by students, and welcomed by Congressman Chris Gibson’s office.

Then, some of the finest poets in the North Country got together with no fanfare and only a few more folks to celebrate peace with poetry.

“Nobody can argue with peace!” someone said to me.

“Oh, you’d be surprised,” I replied.

What may seem to many of us logical, desirable, even the deep  yearning of almost all people is terribly difficult to enact. The pinwheels told the story. Why is there so much hatred? Why is peace so hard to achieve? These were the questions they asked. Let’s make peace, right here, right now, and let it spread around the world. That was the message the youth sent.

That message is going to Washington, D.C. in a box of pinwheels.

As Mother Teresa wrote, it’s “a simple path,” but it takes discipline, perseverance, dedication–love.

The fruit of silence is prayer
The fruit of prayer is faith
The fruit of faith is love
The fruit of love is service
The fruit of service is peace
–Mother Teresa


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Poets for Peace

In honor of the International Day of Peace, several published poets will read famous and original poetry in Glens Falls, New York tonight. If you have Word, click on the link that follows. If you don’t, then know that some heavyweight poets like Jay Rogoff, Paul Pines, and the 3 Poets of the Adirondacks (Elaine Handley, Marilyn McCabe, and Mary Sanders Shartle) will be reading at Rock Hill Bakehouse at 7 (click here for Google Maps).

Before that, we’ll hold a Candlelight Peace Vigil 6:00-6:30 at the Roundabout in front of Congressman Scott Gibson‘s office. As part of these events, hundreds of local schoolchildren and a few college students from Glens Falls, South Glens Falls, and SUNY Adirondack wrote messages and poems on pinwheels that we will leave for the congressman as a testament and obligation of Americans to pursue the peace that children and sages hold as an ideal and a goal.


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prayer in dark September

for the little ones with furrowed brows
for those slowed by stiffness and disbelief
for those who ran out of time or just in time
for those ground down to powder
for those whose feet have gone groundless
for those who loathe all who are unlike themselves
for those whose losses howl in the heart
for those who time how long it takes to heal
for those who time the kill
for those who want revenge on strangers
for those who charge into flames for strangers
for those who’ve scraped the dark’s knife-edge
for those who lead and light the way
for those who pray in black and white
for those whose prayer is dim or blocked

let the muscles of their brows unknit
let disbelief be illumined by possibility
let the ashes mix with water
let them cleanse the crying ground
let groundlessness become a memory
let loathing’s crouching corners fill with light
let the jagged wounds of loss be healed
let flames of hatred sputter and utterly die
let love quench the endless thirst for blood

that the terrible rendings may cease
that no one ever again would be to us a stranger
that our voices would swell to gorgeous song
that our bodies would fill with light
that our lives might be a prayer

–Kathleen McCoy

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Creating: Vagaries, Insidiousness, Frustration and Bliss

This summer the rain seems endless; the sun comes when I’m ensconced in work and unable to enjoy it. Friends are leaving town soon, and all feels dim .  .  .  .

Yet I want to reassure young writers that we will survive long creative droughts, whatever their root causes. I want to breathe easily.  I want to spew poetry. Instead, just for today, I’ll console myself: other long-lost friends have moved into town. My journal waits with many unused nuggets of inspiration. A living-your-faith discussion group called “Theology on Tap” has begun in my town. A writing retreat this summer seems a real possibility. Hope buds at the ends of dripping branches. Write on, friends! Write on.

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