Poetry Friday – fiery edition

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Welcome to Poetry Friday, hosted right here this week.

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In western Canada, we’ve had an extra early start to the forest fire season this year. Last week the entire town of Fort McMurray in north-east Albert had to evacuate (85,000+ people).  A fire that had started just few days earlier was whipped into a frenzy by winds and aided by extreme dryness, no leaves on the trees, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures. It moved so quickly and unexpectedly, some people had only minutes to gather their things and flee town.

The fire, that continues to burn, has left that city and moved into less populated areas. Now comes evaluating the damage and rebuilding. My heart goes out to the people of Fort McMurray.

Forest fires are a common phenomenon of western Canadian summers. Though I have never been threatened by one, I have seen enough news footage to imagine the experience. I wrote the poem below some years ago.

canada-fire

This picture was the prompt that helped inspire the poem below.

Forest Usurper

Born a common spark
baby tongue creeps, crawls
nibbles grasses, needles, twigs.

Lambent cub
egged on by wind
runs and leaps, laughs and licks.

Hungry adolescent hunts
smorgasbord of pine, hemlock, fir,
belches plumes of caustic smoke.

Suffocating stench
stampedes forest creatures
to the glittering river

sends wild-eyed homeowners in 4x4s
loaded with papers, photos, pets
traffic-jam creeping from his pounce.

He is king of the heat now
dancing on the forest crown
swishing his tail on the summit.

Buzzing dragonflies spit
bucket after bucket of pink.
Under his gauzy skin, beast continues to binge.

Only heaven’s tears carry the clout
to say Enough, to stop the treason.
Still he plots, smoldering in caves of blackened roots.

Copyright©2009 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Interested in forest fires? Macleans Magazine‘s “Q&A: What you need to know about the science of forest fires” has lots of interesting information.

I thought of the many teachers and educators that contribute to Poetry Friday when I read the story “When evacuation was ordered, Fort McMurray principal fled with busload of students.” I’m sure all of you would show the same courage, presence of mind, and dedication to the kids that she did!

Now it’s your turn!  Please click on the Mr. Linky button below and leave your links on the page that opens.  Thank you!

Christmas Cake

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Christmas Cake

November or early December is the time
to start on this year’s Christmas cake

Pour several cups of sweet anticipation into a large bowl
– the first snowfall when we hauled out the Christmas records
– all the dolls in the Sear’s catalogue
– paint smells from the basement
cut in a pound of cold reality
– the year I worked nights and slept through
– the first Christmas without Daddy
– the one I broke my wrist
and cream these two ingredients

When blended and smooth
stir in – 1 cup at a time
the plans, ideas, long wish lists,
credit cards and shopping trips,
decorating, light’s a’blinking,
CDs spinning, here we come a-caroling —
keep on stirring

Fold in the surprises next
– a perfect tiny poinsettia for the coffee table
– a leisurely lunch on the Starlight Dinner Train
– room on a standby flight Christmas Eve

Finally toss in
– a teaspoon of worry (surely I’ve forgotten something)
– and a pinch of pride (the house glows by candlelight
while we sip our eggnog Christmas Eve)

Give it the final flourish
– signed! the last (late) card of the season
and bake in a turkey-fragrant oven.
You know it’s done
when the last chocolate is eaten
all the tinsel is vacuumed
and the house is New Year tidy once more.

(Guaranteed to never turn out the same)

Copyright 2004 – Violet Nesdoly

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This poem was first published 2004 in A Night Not to be Silent – A Literary Christmas Greeting, put together by Darlene Moore Berg for the poets at Utmost Christian Writers.  I first published it on this blog in December of 2010; today it’s appearing again as a re-post.

Poetry Friday LogoIt’s linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Tara at A Teaching Life.

 

October Fashion

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P1000859

Morning wears crisp cotton and smoky tulle

October Fashion

Morning wears crisp cotton and smoky tulle
woven through with gold light.

North Shore mountains are sensibly dressed
in darkest denim, their tops
hidden, cozy under unrolling
bolts of blue- and grey-tinged fleece.

The park has thrown on a shawl
of embroidered leaves
in tangerine, scarlet, yellow
wine, olive.

Even dwarf cedar has accessorized
her sensible green bouclé
with red leaf appliqués
of delicate Japanese maple.

© 2004 Capper’s Magazine. Also published by Prairie Messenger in 2006

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This is a repost. I first posted “October Fashion”  here exactly five years ago today. I hope fall is treating you to her head-turning style wherever you are!

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday hosted today by the lovely Michelle Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty.

January, February

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January, February

It’s January, all must change
my resolutions cry it!
I’ll clean the cupboards, shine the glass
completely change my diet.
The constant list of things I need
has changed from Christmas treats
to organizers, storage boxes,
and a set of sheets.

It’s February, nothing’s changed
the bathroom scales decry it
(that frozen stash of Christmas treats
has sabotaged my diet).
The hopeful list of things I pledged
discreetly tucked away.
Ten months to do just as I please
until next New Year’s day.

© 2004 – Time of Singing, Winter 2004-2005 (also published in Calendar, 2004)
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Happy New Year!

Today’s poem is a re-post. It first appeared here in 2009, but I wrote it long before that. I’m afraid it’s the ongoing story of my New Year’s Resolutions. Some things never change!Poetry Friday Logo
This post is part of Poetry Friday. You will find many more Poetry Friday poems linked at Betsy’sI Think in Poems blog.

Guided

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Guided

When confluence in the heavens
shone brighter than any illuminated text
they high-fived, then headed
to the mall for myrrh and frankincense
stopped by the bank for gold.

Whenever, on that dusty trek
needles of sand attacked
camels were crabby
thighs chafed, tailbones ached
eyes rose again to blue-white beam
that drew them like a magnet.

In Jerusalem when no one knew
about an infant king
heaven’s eye winked seeming to say
“Carry on boys.
There is a reason you’ve come all this way.”

The single-file Bethlehem street
led to a crescent of modest bungalows
but even here
their confidence never wavered
for their star hovered
over one.

And so they double-parked
jumped off those dusty camels
rummaged through sandy saddle bags for gifts
knocked on that humble door
with trembling anticipation.
Despite the unkingliness
of the whole business
faith never faltered
for God’s spotlight
had guided every step.

© 2011 by Violet Nesdoly

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The Christmas story is full of miracles. This star is one of them. I hope, this holiday season, that you are being wowed by a few wonders and miracles as well.

Poetry Friday LogoThis poem is a re-post. It  was first published here in December 2011. Today it is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted by Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog.

Ocean Neighbourhood

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Ocean Neighbourhood

Cuttlefish, Brittle Star, Bull Shark and Conch
Blowfish and Electric Eels
Grey Whales and Dogfish Sharks, Gastropods, Clams
Jellyfish, Orcas and Seals

Purple Sea Urchins, Sand Dollars and Squid
Octopus, Tuna and Sponge
Walrus and Angelfish, Right Whales and Blue
Nurse Sharks and Makos that lunge

Sea horses, Corals, Crustaceans and Krill
Man-of-War, Mollusks — I wish
Dugong my neighbor and Narwhal my friend . . .
Oh, if I only were fish!

© Violet Nesdoly

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Poetry Friday LogoWe only have to watch a few underwater videos or movies like Nemo to realize that an ocean neighbourhood is  not nearly as friendly or safe as this poem (a repost from February 2011)  would imply. But we can pretend, can’t we!

This poem is part of Poetry Friday hosted today by Laura at  Author Amok.

Summer Serenade

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Summer Serenade

Summer’s orchestra plays
woodwind overture
of a bird-filled morning.

Viola hum of bees
quark of oboe ducks
blend with bowing violins
of an insect-busy refrain.

Trombone slide convertibles
show off the flashy third movement.

Clink of cutlery and crystal
are percussion
tremolo laughter
the piccolo trills
of a pitch-perfect finale.

Encore!

© 2009 by Violet Nesdoly
First published in River of Words (a publication of MSA Poets Potpourri Society).

I am re-posting this poem from the summer of 2011. It’s my summer experience so far this June-July. (Hope you don’t mind second servings once in a while 🙂

Poetry Friday LogoIt’s linked at Poetry Friday, hosted today by Keri at Keri Recommends.

Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin (review)

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Biblical fiction is a genre that helps the Bible come alive for many readers. A nice thing about books in this genre is that they’re virtually timeless.

Over the years I’ve read and reviewed quite a few stories based on the lives of Bible characters. In the days ahead I’ll be reprinting some of those reviews here along with other biblical novels reviewed here for the first time.

Today I’m resurrecting a review of Lynn Austin’s book Gods and Kings: Chronicles of the Kings #1. First released in February 2005, the KINDLE version of this book is currently  FREE!! (but I don’t know for how long, so don’t tarry if you want it).

Here’s my review, excerpted from a longer version on Blogcritics.org.

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Gods and Kings by Lynn AustinGods and Kings is Book 1 in the biblical fiction series Chronicles of the King  by Lynn Austin. It begins in the early years of Judah’s King Ahaz, just as Aram is about to lay siege to Jerusalem. It ends with the coronation of King Hezekiah.

The cast of characters follows the biblical account pretty closely. It includes King Ahaz, his wife Abijah, her father the priest Zechariah, the high priest Uriah, and prince Hezekiah. Minor appearances are made by Hezekiah’s wife Hephzibah, and the prophets Micah and Isaiah. Shebna, Hezekiah’s Egyptian teacher along with many other bit-players, are fictional.

Several elements worked together to make this book a worthwhile read for me.

One of them was in the area of plot, and Austin’s interpretation of how godly belief lines were preserved in ancient Israel. Often when reading the stories in Kings and Chronicles, I’ve been struck by how a God-fearing king is followed by one who is idolatrous. I’ve questioned how that could be. The fictionally-expanded events of this story illustrate that possibility in a compelling and believable way.

A theme element I really appreciated was the analysis of compromise in the character Uriah (Ahaz’s high priest). Promoted from priest to palace administrator, Uriah starts out with the intention of using his position to influence Ahaz away from idolatry. But a series of forces, including his own lust for power, greed, and international pressure, serve to make him, by the end, a promoter of idol worship instead of an opponent.

In the setting department, I felt this book succeeded in educating me about a different time and place—one of the reasons I enjoy reading historical fiction. The descriptions of the idol worship ceremonies were especially compelling, as was the description of the meeting of King Ahaz with the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser in the captured city of Damascus. Here is some of that section, to give you a flavor of the setting and Austin’s writing style:

“…they mounted his chariot riding in silence to the ruined city. Ahaz struggled to conceal his shock and horror as he saw evidence of the Assyrian’s atrocities. On either side of the road that led to the main gate, row after row of bodies hung from tall stakes.

“The emperor would like you to meet the chief elders of Damascus,” Jephia said. “They were impaled alive and left to die, watching the destruction of their city.”

Ahaz gazed straight ahead, holding a linen handkerchief over his mouth to keep from vomiting. A sign above the gate read: This is the fate of the enemies of Assyria….. (p. 141 – page numbers from the paperback edition)

I found Gods and Kings an engaging and worthwhile read. It left me with the sense of how God was capable of working in the life of a nation, and in the lives of individuals. Austin has left just enough loose ends at the end of the book to tempt readers to search out  Song of Redemption (Chronicles of the Kings #2).

Title: Gods and Kings
Author: Lynn Austin
Publisher: Bethany House, 324 pages, 2005
ASIN: B004X7B8QQ

(Disclosure: The Amazon links on this page are connected to my Amazon affiliate account. If you make a purchase through them a few pennies will be credited to my account. Thanks for your support, if you choose to make a purchase through them. )