Heart-Theater, an Elegy

memories crowd the stage of my heart-theater
the actors all dead
but for me

tears for them come unexpectedly

like gulls suddenly swooping
a perfect sand dollar found
a sudden rainstorm

i hear mom’s voice:
“buck up and carry on”

memories play in my heart-theater
the actors all dead
but for me

tears for them come unexpectedly

singing songs long forgotten
making family recipes
an old movie

i hear dad’s voice
“you can do this”

memories sweep through my heart-theater
the actors all dead
but for me

tears for them come unexpectedly

like a made-up kids’ language
stepping on a toy
a bicycle crash

i hear steve’s voice
“can you help me, boj?”

memories crowd the stage of my heart-theater
the actors all dead
but for me

.but.

joy from them comes unendingly

thriving in my heart-theater
their voices all trumpets
and whispers and hugs

Harvell Family

@ 2018 Glover Gardens

An Early, Bitter Tanshi from a Most Cheerful Girl

where o where
did you hide my anaconda?
i need that snake

Bitter over some teenage breakup, I wrote that tiny little poem in my high school journal. For some reason, it has always stuck with me; it’s so bitter and melodramatic that it makes me laugh.

I remember the poem but not the boy who broke my heart, which is probably as it should be.

I’ve just learned the term “tanshi,” which means “small poem” and I guess that’s what this is.

I’ve never liked snakes and probably just used the word anaconda because it sounded cold-blooded and mean. I just looked them up and there’s no way I could use an image of that scary-looking reptile here in the annals of Glover Gardens. I’ll probably dream about anacondas because of the few I just saw on Google, eating large mammals. Yuck.

But I have to have an image for the post. So I found a picture of myself from that period, a scan of a yearbook photo someone uploaded to Facebook. I was the female winner of “Most Cheerful”. Yep. Not “Most Likely to Succeed”, “Most Popular” or even “Most Likely to Start a Blog in Her Late 40s”. But now, I’ll take it! I love being known as a cheerful person. I chose this picture to balance out the bitter tone of the tanshi, the sting of the anaconda. I really was a happy kid. Still am.

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No anacondas were harmed in the creation of this post, and no, that boy is not the one that broke my heart.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

 

 

A Mother’s Poem on Mothers’ Day

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the very best thing
that i ever did
was to procreate
(to have a kid)

the world is different
and much more real
my investment’s bigger
(a serious deal)

i watch in awe as
his life gathers steam
he acts on his instincts
(follows his dream)

no words can capture
the simple pure joy
i feel as a parent
(the mom of this boy)

enormous blessings
i take from his youth
he shows me new worlds
(unexpected truths)

the very best thing
that i ever did
was to procreate
(to have a kid)

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© 2018 Glover Gardens

Spring is Calling

O Spring,

you call to me ~

with your cheeky ways

and lengthening days,

your budding flowers

and pop-up showers.

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Scentimental Floribunda rose from Glover Gardens

O Spring,

you call the trees ~

with your gentle breeze

tickling soft new leaves,

basking in sun-bright,

peaceful in moonlight.

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Cherry tree at the Jardin des Champs Élysées in Paris

O Spring,

you call the birds ~

tiny nests built strong,

their answering song

guiding fledglings’ flight

in the morning light.

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O Spring,

keep calling out ~

as long as we breathe, 

we’ll keep answering ~

the birds, the trees and me.

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Bright green spring aspen near Little House in the Rockies (Colorado)

© 2018, Glover Gardens

 

 

 

 

“Give me a word and I will write a poem starting with that word…”

The author of the A Passers By blog says, “Give me a word and I will write a poem starting with that word.”  So I did! My favorite word – and idea – is serendipity.

A poem was created in a very rapid turnaround, and it surprised me! As I said in the comments:

Thank you so much – you made me smile, and laugh out loud, and a little uncomfortable, too. It takes a good poem to do that!”

I had expected a certain kind of poem, and got quite another, reminding me of the value of collaboration and improvisation – when a person builds on an idea from another, the result is almost always unexpected.

Find the poem here: Serendipity.

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Image from the A Passers By blog

 

Christmas Wishes from E. B. White – The New Yorker Radio Hour – WNYC

This heartfelt, ironic, wry and ultimately sweet poem is worth 3 minutes of your time.  Click on the link below to hear it read aloud.

Merry Christmas.

E. B. White sends Christmas greetings to uncertified accountants, old men asleep in libraries, and people who think they are in love but aren’t sure.

Source: Christmas Wishes from E. B. White – The New Yorker Radio Hour – WNYC

beth and bella and bree and brielle (an amazing poem by a very wise 6th grader)

I just read an awesome poem by a friend and former colleague’s daughter, published in the Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) Navigator online blog.  Source: beth and bella and bree and brielle.

beth and bella and bree and brielle

went down to the park (to relax one day)

and beth found a firefly that flew to the sky; forward to tomorrow and back again to yesterday that made her run as fast as the wind, and

bella ate some wonderful fruit that made her feel like she could float;

and bree laid down in the soft, summer grass and watched the leaves sway and dance: and

brielle climbed a tree that was as tall as forever and its view stretched out to the green studded meadows and back to her home.

Whatever we think, whatever we were taught to believe will keep on changing with the world’s scenery.

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Wow! This beautiful, gentle, tranquil and philosophical poem is rich with imagery, illustrative of the concept and value of mindfulness, and fills me with hope. Are you with me?

Click here to read the poem online and navigate to other contributions.

Copyright belongs to Brielle Burns, a 6th grader from Texas

Water, Wind and Land: Metaphors for a Geophysicist (remembrance for Grandpa on his 98th birthday)

My grandfather was an amazing man.  A geophysicist, he was quiet, brilliant, circumspect, pragmatic, a lifelong learner in the fields of math and science and leader in oil exploration – and yet he was so faithfully loving and supportive of a creative like me, his oldest grandchild and just about his polar opposite in terms of interests and passions.

51t9ijqmntl-_sx314_bo1204203200_Grandpa was strong and silent like so many men of his age who served in WWII and saw things they could never describe and didn’t care to remember.  Tom Brokaw called them The Greatest Generation in his influential book of the same name; I just call myself lucky that this first lieutenant in the Air Force fell in love with my grandmother, a divorcé with a tiny daughter, and married her in 1942.

Ruth and Nancy 1941That tiny daughter was my Mom, and this gentle, studious man adopted her as his own, treating her the same as the other children he and Grandma went on to have. I didn’t know Grandpa wasn’t my Mom’s biological father / my biological grandfather for years, and when I found out, it didn’t matter in the least. We were his, and he was ours.

(photos with captions are excerpts from a slide show created by my Dad for my grandmother’s 90th birthday)

Tom Ruth Nancy Steven
Grandpa Grandma Nancy Lucy

A true explorer, Grandpa’s career in oil exploration took him all over the world; he was eventually VP of Geophysics for Superior Oil (now ExxonMobil).  His remarkable career was followed by adventures on the sea, as his retirement began with a 42-foot sailboat and trips that sometimes included lucky grandchildren like my brother and me.

The Sea Urchin

Steve on Sea Urchin
My brother on my grandparents’ sailboat, in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, in the mid-70s; this was an epic 7-day trip I will always remember

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The rigors of sailing gave way to land-based adventures as my grandparents mounted an RV in their 70s and traveled throughout the country, visiting national parks and family, arriving just in time for birthdays and births (including my son’s). Their retirement together was rich in experiences fueled by water, wind and land – and love of family.

Tom Ruth RV

Today would have been Grandpa’s 98th birthday. To honor and remember him, I’m sharing the poem I wrote for his funeral in 2002.

Water, Wind and Land: Metaphors for a Geophysicist (for Grandpa)

 

we are all archeologists now

sifting through our memories of you

sorting the bits and pieces we find

to put them back together

in what will become our lasting “mind pictures” of you

sometimes sifting and sorting alone

sometimes together with your other loves ones

turning our memory fragments this way and that

to see where they fit

and make a clearer picture

all of my finds in this archeological dig of grief

are geo-metaphors for a geophysicist:

~ water, wind and land ~

 

for you were not a man of words

you were a man of deeds

of facts

of maps

and plans

 

my dig finds full sails and stormy skies

radars and Lorans

dolphin fish and egrets’ cries

a wood-hulled boat, a lake cabin, a becalming

your thoughtful brown eyes

your “I love you’s” were spoken in geo-metaphor:

~ water, wind and land ~

“help me steer the boat, Kimmie”

“Stevie, let me show you how to tie a slip knot”

“Of course girls can shoot skeet!”

 

for you were not a man of words

you were a man of deeds

of facts

of maps

and plans

 

I dig deeper, contemplative, archeologist-turned sociologist

looking for meaning

and I find you are an underground river

strong, constant, clear and sure

your life’s waters carried bloodlines and love-lines

equally strong

lifelines guiding through shifting sands

~ water, wind and land ~

 

my finds are home-baked bread

and spectacular jams

a well-stocked RV

crossing ferries and dams

Grandma’s letters with your P.S:

“Math and science, math and science!”

recognized clearly – then and now –

as geo-metaphor love, all your best

~ water, wind and land ~

 

you were a man of deeds

of facts

of maps

and plans

~ water, wind and land ~

 

we dig and sort

together and apart

reconstructing geo-you

in the museums of our hearts

~ water, wind and land ~

 

 

love, kimmie

july 2002


Grandpa and me at my first wedding, way back in the 80s. Those pearls were borrowed from my grandmother, one of the many, many gifts he brought her from his world travels.  His finds, which included on the one end spears and art from Nigeria and on the other end, jewelry like these pearls and a gorgeous raw emerald, have been given to all of my cousins. I got the pearls.

Grandpa and Kim 1984

In his later years, Grandpa channeled his natural curiosity and scientific attention to detail into cooking, mostly bread-baking and jam-making.  He made the same recipes again and again, meticulously documenting small differences until he had them perfected.  Christmas stocking gifts in those years were highly coveted jars of his homemade jellies.  I treasure the memory of our long talks about cooking from those days. I also inherited some of his knives and big pots, which I consider to be heirlooms on par with the pearls.

Rest in peace, dear man, and bless you for teaching us about water, wind and land – and love.

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

My Brother’s Suicide: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

steven-harvell-1423142466I have never said this in a public forum: my brother Steve’s untimely death four years ago was a suicide.

At first, we didn’t know. And then, we did.

But it wasn’t time to talk about it before. Our family and very close friends needed time to process, to grieve, to try to make sense out of something that we will never understand. Ever.

And quite frankly, there was no way to express the ragged, jagged, piercing and seemingly permanent heartbreak that we share. I’ve tried in this blog, believe me, although you didn’t know what you were reading. Some of my hurt-heart poems and writing are linked at the end of the post.

The adage says, “time heals all wounds,” but I wonder why the part about the scars was left out?

There is something true about the healing (accepting?) impact of time, though – it all looks different through the 4-years later lens. I can see past the horror, shock, pain and hopelessness, all the way back to the wonderment and love we once shared, the richness that my relationship with my brother brought to my life, and the Crayola-bright uniqueness that was Steve’s essence. His extremely wise choice in marriage brought me my “sister” and my nieces, a gift that is immeasurable and one of the reasons I believe in God.

My nieces have shared their stories through their participation in Out of the Darkness walks, and their courage is the reason I’m now ready to publicly share this painful story.

The other reason is that, like my nieces, I hope my voice can help impact even one life for the better. Please forgive the raggedness, the jaggedness of this poem, and share it with anyone you think might be suffering alone in the dark.

A Suicide Prevention Poem: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

please hear my plea

if you are out there somewhere

in the dark

considering taking control of your life

by taking your life

please tell someone

just one person

let one person know

that you are at risk

in the dark

and sad

and feeling alone and desperate and unloved

please hear my plea

know that the people who have always loved you

still do

always will

know that your current situation

in the dark

doesn’t have to be

your permanent situation

there’s no death sentence for mistakes or regret

unless you pass it on yourself

please hear my plea

reach out to the light

please tell someone

just one person

let one person know

that you are at risk

in the dark

and sad

and feeling alone and desperate and unloved

you’ll never know

unless you reach out

that you can live in the light again

we’ll never know we can help

unless you tell someone

just one person

let one person know

we’ll never know

that we could have been

the light in your darkness

please hear my plea:

you matter to someone

he mattered to me


Other hurt-heart writings to wrestle with this kind of grief and embrace the remaining joy of brother-memories :

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Death is Life-Affirming: Hibiscus Haiku

Death is life-affirming.

Family gathers ’round when a loved one dies, sharing memories and telling stories, all a reminder both of the value of the life of the lost one and the interconnectedness of those who remain. We experienced this at Glover Gardens recently when my Dad died, rejoicing in the togetherness of family and friends even while we mourned together. In addition to their continual prayers and love, my cousin’s wife brought a gift to our informal celebration of Dad’s life, a live and blooming hibiscus, with a heartfelt haiku.

your much-beloved dad
like this hibiscus flower
blossomed love and life

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Lucy, my Aunt-Mom and Dad’s widow, took this beautiful picture

I’ve posted before about how we love love love both hibiscus and haiku here at Glover Gardens; this gift was as appropriate and welcome as a hug to smooth a hardship – and so life-affirming! A quick little poem, at the second grade level (I couldn’t resist):

I have a wonderful cousin
who has a wonderful wife.
She wrote a hibiscus haiku
to celebrate Dad’s life.

 

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A white Texas Star hibiscus, blooming for the first time on Dad’s death day

Find more about Dad here.

And here’s a tour through our hibiscus flowers (also shared in this previous post).

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

~ with help from Marsha (haiku) and Lucy (cover picture) and Dad (inspiration) ~